Meredith was much quieter than the other toddlers in her Austin preschool. She hardly said a word. On the playground, Meredith didn’t run around like her friends. She seemed to have trouble walking.
That’s when Meredith’s preschool teachers suggested her parents contact an Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) provider. Texas’ ECI program provides families of young children with screening to determine if a child has a disability or a developmental delay.
Meredith’s screening confirmed she had speech and gross motor delays. The ECI team then worked with Meredith and her parents during 18 months of at-home therapy to promote her language skills and muscle development. The results were life changing for the entire family.
“One day, she started to run,” said Carrie, Meredith’s mom. “Not walk. Run. Meredith has transformed into a running, jumping, chatty girl that lets you know exactly what she wants,” Carrie said.
The important screening and therapy that helped Meredith is supported by EHF’s $170,000 grant to Children’s Defense Fund in Texas (CDF). With EHF’s support, CDF and its partner organizations are working to increase awareness, enrollment and access to Early Childhood Intervention screening and services across the state.
Strengthening Texas’ ECI system is preventive at its core. By identifying developmental delays early, families get an invaluable head start on addressing problems long before they lead to academic, social, and emotional difficulties in elementary school and beyond.
This effort is especially important for low income, uninsured families in Texas. But too many of these families are not accessing these services.
“A recent study showed 76 percent of Texas children receiving Medicaid didn’t receive one or more required medical, vision or hearing screenings,” said Patrick Bressette, CEO of CDF in Texas. “Improving screening and referral rates requires Texas to create a strong, sustainable system where children can get easy access to screening and referrals for immediate help.”
There’s an extra benefit to CDF through the EHF grant because of EHF’s partnership with the Packard Foundation. Because EHF is working with Packard, CDF and its partners will work with counterparts in five other states, sharing technical assistance from national experts. This level of support would not have been available to the Texas group without the EHF-Packard partnership.
“It’s a great opportunity for EHF to work in collaboration with a national foundation like Packard who has deep experience in early childhood intervention,” said Jo Carcedo, EHF’s VP for grants. “Our plan is to build upon this collaboration through this project and find other opportunities to bring important resources to Texas.”