A few weeks ago one of Charlie’s therapists let me know that they would be going another year without a pay increase. They wouldn’t even be given a raise for cost of living and they pay for all their own gas. Considering how much gas is squeezing everyone’s budget, I thought this was awful. Teachers don’t get great pay, but we’re pretty much guaranteed an incremental increase each year. So, I got all political and sent the following e-mail to some of our family members and a couple of friends.
Dear Friends and Family:
I am writing today about something that I feel is very important. I am not a very political person, but this particular issue has hit pretty close to home and I feel that I must say something.
Charlie, as many of you know, had a very difficult birth. He began receiving therapy at three months of age and now sees five different therapists at different times of the month. These therapists have been provided to us free of charge through a program called Early Steps. Early Steps provides therapists in the home. This is very important because some children are medically fragile and are at-risk whenever they are around large groups of people. It is also beneficial because the therapists help you learn how to help your child using the things that you already own. Every state is required to have some type of Early Intervention Program by the Federal government. This is because they realize the importance of reaching kids early. The brain is still finishing it’s development and great strides can be made at this time.
Three years ago, pay for Early Steps providers was cut by 25%. This year, a proposal to increase pay was removed from House Bill One. Already, Early Steps is having difficulty getting enough providers. Charlie waited six months to get a physical therpaist. Early Steps Providers need to be paid competatively. Without competative pay, they will go get jobs elsewhere. Please don’t do to Early Steps what we did to public schools in the 90s. Teacher pay was low and schools suffered. There was a teacher shortage. These children deserve every chance they can get. Please don’t deprive them of that by making it so difficult to find providers. If you can, please take the time to contact a state representative and express you concern. Specifically mention Early Steps and House Bill One.
You can use the following link to get your state representative’s e-mail address or telephone number:
http://house.louisiana.gov/ Please pass this along if you can.
I guess I feel like I need to address one more thing. I’m sure that you, like myself, feel that we pay for too many things already. Perhaps you don’t think that tax dollars need to be spent serving at-risk children. Here’s the thing: Pay now or pay later. If these kids dont’ get the help and attention they need then they will end up on disability at age 18. We’ll be supporting them for the rest of their lives. This is our best shot to help them fulfill their potential and become contributing members of society. You will end up paying for these kids–just decide if you want to do it for three years or for fifty.
I’m including a picture of all the progress Charlie has made in just ten months. Few doctors would have thought this possible. I know that this is because of all the hard work we put in in conjuction with Early Steps.
Well, you know how these things go–my husband passed it on to a friend who happens to work with a state representative. The friend printed it out, gave it to said representative, and then added a written note letting him know that if he ever wanted to meet Charlie personally, he could.
A politician invited to my house. I’m not sure I even like politicians. I am thankful that the guy is really busy and probably won’t have time. Still, my nerves!