Children’s advocates call for reimbursement rate hike for early intervention services

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. Some lawmakers say the state of New York is failing young children, especially when it comes to vital early childhood intervention services.

They are calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to increase the current reimbursement rate for these services, which the state hasn’t done in over a decade.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, the New York State Delegation, The Children’s Agenda, and Parents Helping Parents are calling on the governor to raise the budget for these programs by 11 percent.

“When you invest in kids when they’re young, you are saving money at the school district level, Medicaid system, in the health care system overall because so many children who receive age-appropriate intervention don’t develop issues later on,” said State Assemblymember Jen Lunsford (D-135).

County and state leaders in Albany want to see more money invested in early childhood intervention services for young children. Led by Assemblyman Harry Bronson, the coalition just gained the support of Bello. He says Monroe County currently has about 400 children who are waiting for access to these services.

“That is straight-up unacceptable,” said Bello. “That’s over 400 children who are at risk right now of not keeping pace with other children in their age group. That’s over 400 families who are desperate for their children to get developmental help that they need and that they’re entitled to.”

Lynn Mordenga is one parent who voiced her frustration about being on that waiting list.

“It’s just so crucial for his development because he’s gaining and he’s missing his developmental milestones and it’s just very hard and frustrating as a parent to be waiting for this,” said Mordenga.

Other parents like Brittany Jencik are getting the benefits of the programs on time.

“We are so grateful to have a team help us navigate not only his challenges but also ours,” said Jencik. “They threw everything into helping him. They knew our hearts so needed to see him make progress.”

Bello says Monroe County increased its reimbursement rates by 15 percent in the past three years. He says it’s time for the state to do the same.

“Early intervention providers have been handcuffed by low reimbursement rates, burdensome billing, and a lack of attention and our children suffer the consequences,” said Bello.

Besides our local coalition, more than 100 different organizations in the greater Rochester area have also signed a petition calling on Hochul to raise the reimbursement rates.