PROVIDENCE – Children in Rhode Island’s four poorest cities were less likely to receive preschool special education services than children in the rest of the state, according to a report recently released by Rhode Island Kids Count.
In an issue brief that looked at young children with developmental delays and disabilities, the report found that early screenings, referrals, interventions and educational resources can help young children counteract the disabilities and developmental delays often associated with poverty, and that Rhode Island already has several good programs in place to address this problem. Case in point: the state’s Child Outreach program, which provides free developmental screenings to children ages three to five in all the state’s public school districts.
“Providing these children and families with early detection, as well as a strong continuum of care throughout the developmental process, can significantly impact the likelihood of success throughout their life,” Elizabeth Burke Bryant, the executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count, said in a statement.
But challenges remain.
In addition to the disparity in special education services provided to Rhode Island’s youngest children, which the report said the R.I. Department of Education is working to address, Rhode Island must be sure that children with multiple risk factors for developmental problems remain eligible for early intervention under new state eligibility guidelines.
The report was released Nov. 15 at a policy roundtable held at Rhode Island Hospital. It was developed with support from CVS Caremark Corp.