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September 25, 2013

Seward calls for fix to child-care snafu

State Sen. James L. Seward, R-Milford, on Tuesday called for a swift solution to a billing problem that has placed Early Intervention Program services for hundreds of special-needs children at risk.

Seward also questioned the selection of an out-of-state fiscal agent for the program in a Tuesday media release.

“Worried parents and dedicated providers alike have contacted me in regard to the newly created complexities in the Early Intervention Program payment system,” Seward said. “Providers are not being paid, and, more significantly, children in need of vital services are going without the care they desperately need. Swift action must be taken to correct this detrimental situation.”

The state program is part of the national Early Intervention Program for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families, and is administered by the state Department of Health. It offers a variety of therapeutic and support services to children under 3 who have a confirmed disability or established developmental delay.

As part of the 2012-13 state budget, a central statewide administrator of the program was approved with an eye toward mandate relief for counties, which had been responsible for managing billing of the program. It hasn’t worked out as planned, and many providers have not been reimbursed for their services.

Seward also questioned the selection of the Massachusetts-based Public Consulting Group, Inc., as the permanent fiscal agent for the program. There are also plans to move call-center jobs for the program to Tennessee.

“While I am sure that Public Consulting Group is a reputable organization, I have to express my sincere disappointment that New York State tax dollars are being used to create jobs in Tennessee,” Seward said. “That seems to run counter to the governor’s ‘New York Open for Business’ campaign, which is designed to attract and grow businesses here in New York.”

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