As some of you may know, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposes $23 million in cuts to Early Intervention services across the state. We decided that someone ought to do something about it, so we’ve started this petition with the hopes of bringing enough attention to this issue affecting over 10,000 children and families in the state, that state lawmakers, including Governor Rauner, do the right thing: freeze and reverse any cuts to early intervention services.

We urge all of you to join the cause in saving Illinois Early Intervention! Please click on the the link below to make your voice heard. And please pass it along.

www.change.org/p/bruce-rauner-illinois-state-house-illinois-state-senate-save-illinois-early-intervention

Below is the full text of the petition.

An Open Letter to Illinois State Lawmakers and Bruce Rauner, Governor of Illinois

Dear state lawmakers and Governor Rauner,

As you probably know, Illinois’ Early Intervention (EI) program provides families who have children birth to three, with diagnosed disabilities, developmental delays, or substantial risk of significant delays, with resources and support that help them in maximizing their child’s development.

As proposed, Governor Rauner’s fiscal year 2016 budget would cut $23 million from Early Intervention across Illinois and effectively boot tens of thousands of kids from the program. The Rauner Administration is proposing to increase the definition of a developmental delay from 30% to 50%, denying thousands of children and their families access to the services they need. Knowing that 19% of an Illinois median family income is spent on infant care, this is a move that would cripple household budgets and depress local economies across the state.

As an industry, Early Intervention is a job creator in more ways than one. In addition to being directly responsible for the employment over 70,000 full-time workers, every 100 new jobs created in the Illinois child care industry creates 56 new jobs in other industries, for a total of 156 new jobs in Illinois. In addition to directly contributing $2.4 billion to the state economy, we also know that every $1 spent in Early Intervention saves up to $13 in future costs. From both short-term and long-term perspectives, it is abundantly clear that funding EI in Illinois makes fiscal sense.

An investment in Early Intervention services is not only economically-sensible – it is morally the right thing to do. Children who have diagnosed disabilities, developmental delays or substantial risk of significant delays did not choose them, and rely on their parents to make decisions that are in their own best interest. In this world of tough decisions, no parent should have to choose between whether their child gets the treatment they need, or the bills are paid.

Thus, as taxpayers, and as members of the Illinois Early Intervention community, we urge all state lawmakers, including Governor Rauner, to freeze and reverse any cuts to Early Intervention services in the state. Saving Early Intervention in Illinois alone will not fix the state’s budget challenges, but is a major step in the right direction. An investment in Early Intervention is a moral, practical investment in job creation, economic stability, and most importantly, in children.

Please sign this petition to do your part in protecting families and their children counting on Early Intervention services in Illinois.

There is more you can do.

Visit the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Early Intervention Call to Action website. There you will find the information you need to email your representative and Governor Rauner. Please take a few minutes of your time to do the right thing! And encourage your family and friends to do the same.