The legislature has been busy since convening last Wednesday. H589Insurance Coverage for Children's Hearing Aids is moving along! The Conference Committee report is completeretuning the bill to its original language addressing hearing aids only. The House Conferees will likely sign the report today, followed by the Senate signatures perhaps tomorrow. The Conference Report will then go to the House and Senate floors for approval and the bill is passed!! The final stop will be the Governor who will sign the bill into law. We are working to have a public signing ceremony for this event. I will keep you posted!!
Call to Action!!
Today the NC Senate Appropriations Committee is approving their budget for the next fiscal year that begins July 1, 2010. CRITICAL CUTS TO THE OFFICE OF EDUCATION SERVICES ARE INCLUDED. Specifically:
Eliminates the Office of Education Services, including the Resource Support Program, Governor Morehead School Outreach, Deaf/Blind, and exceptional children's programs.
Eliminates the Training Contract that supports the fall and spring workshops for early intervention and public school teachers. The contract is held by BEGINNINGS and the trainings are a collaborative effort of BEGINNINGS, CASTLE, OES, DPI and Project EAR. The proposed Senate budget reduces this annual contract from $50,000 to $3,541, thus effectively eliminating this program.
Moves oversight of the schools for the deaf and school for the blind to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Division of Exceptional Children. Additionally, Governor Morehead Preschool, Early Intervention ServicesPreschool, and the BEGINNINGS contracts will be transferred to DPI.
What is not clear to me, is the reference to Early Intervention ServicesPreschool. Preschool refers to 3-5 year olds which are not now served by the Office of Education Services. The Early Intervention Programs serve children under the age of 3 years. However, DPI does not serve children under 3. Early Intervention Programs are administered by the Division of Public Health.
Leaders in the Senate "heard" from parents and the Deaf community about why the residential schools should be moved under the Department of Public Instruction. House leaders need to hear from all of us who believe these massive changes would be detrimental to children under the age of three and the hundreds of children and teachers in the public schools for whom the Resource Support Program makes it possible for children with hearing loss to achieve academic and life success.
What Happens Next
The House will begin deliberating the budget now. They can accept the Senate recommendations or they can reject/change them. Leaders and members of the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee need to be convinced all the changes proposed by the Senate are not in the best interest of the state's children and teachers.
What You Can Do!
Contact the following members of the House immediately:
Representative Bob England, Co-Chair
Representative Verla Insko, Co-Chair
Representative Beverly Earle, Co-Chair
Additionally, the Chairs of the House Full Appropriations Committee need to hear from us. They are:
Representative Mickey Michaux, Senior Chair
Representative Alma Adams, Co-Chair
Representative Martha Alexander, Co-Chair
Representative Jim Crawford, Co-Chair
Representative Phil Haire, Co-Chair
Representative Maggie Jeffus, Co-Chair
Representative Joe Tolson, Co-Chair
Representative Doug Yongue, Co-Chair
Tell them how important the Early Intervention and/or Resource Support Programs are/were to you.
Ask them to please make sure these programs are preserved.
Ask them to consider fully funding the training contract for BEGINNINGS.
Thank them for their work and let them know you understand how difficult their jobs are during this time of economic downturn.
Share this email with others!
Time is of the essence! Contact them now!