In 2011, Texas started cutting millions of dollars from the state Early Childhood Intervention program (ECI). At the time, they estimated it would lead to 9 percent reduction in the number of kids that could enter the program. That includes kids with speech delays, Down syndrome, autism and other challenges.
According to a new study from Texans Care for Children, the impact was bigger than expected. The group found statewide enrollment in ECI programs fell by 14 percent between 2011 and 2015.
Texans Care for Children CEO, Stephanie Rubin, says enrollment of black children in the program fell by 27 percent.
“It really needs some attention at the community level and at the state level to look into why black families have been left out of the program at the highest numbers, Latino families as well,” she said. “This is when the population of black and Latino young kids has been growing in the state.”
Providers say it’s not surprising these services are harder to come by now.
Andy Miller, the President and CEO of Any Baby Can, says you get pay for, adding that it’s getting harder for providers like him to keep their doors open.
When it comes to communities of color, Miller suspects the family cost shares might be driving some families to opt-out of the program.