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Children facing crisis in statewide service shortage

Hundreds of local families in search of services for children under the age of three could soon be in limbo.

Starting Dec.1, Monroe County will begin putting children on a waiting list to apply for early intervention services to see if their children qualify.

The services include speech, physical and occupational therapy for developmental delays or disabilities that research shows aid in a child developing to their full potential as an adult.

It’s all because of a shortage of providers and therapists caused by funding and reimbursement issues.

According to The Children’s Agenda, service coordinators are reimbursed less now compared to 20 years ago, forcing many service providers to leave the industry and many agencies to close their doors.

Among the casualties in Monroe County include Stepping Stones Learning Center and Occupational Therapy of Rochester.

“So many programs have closed because they can’t afford to stay open,” said Tracey Taylor, an occupational therapist providing early intervention services.

Taylor’s two children also benefited from those early intervention services.

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