Governor Rounds says it was one of the most difficult programs to put on the chopping block, but he says cutting the Birth to 3 Connections program would save the state millions of dollars.
The program provides in-home therapy to children with developmental delays, and those who use it say it would be difficult to lose it.
It took little Benjamin Meyers hours of physical and occupational therapy to be able to throw a ball. He has what's known as low muscle tone, to the point where he needs to wear braces on his legs and do special exercises to strengthen every part of his body.
"Every time we'd feed him, he'd just gag and choke, and I had no idea until his speech therapist said 'he has low tone in his throat, too,'" Benjamin’s mother Mae Meyers said.
Benjamin also wears glasses because of a genetic eye condition that will cause him to go blind before age 30. Mae Meyers says he receives physical therapy once a week, and occupational and speech therapy every other week through Birth to 3 Connections
"I'm thankful for the Birth to 3 program. Because of it, we're getting the therapy we need. Otherwise, I don't know what I'm doing," Meyers said.
The program serves 1,000 kids ages zero to three years old every month and has more than 300 service coordinators throughout the state. Officials estimate cutting it would save around $2 million.
But Meyers believes taking the program away may end up costing the state just as much in the long run.
"I think people will play catch-up with developmental issues if they don't catch them early. They might be small at first, but if you get behind it's hard to catch up," said Meyers.
Meyers is especially grateful to be a part of the program now, because there's no guarantee it'll be there in the future.
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