HACKENSACK- The Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Wednesday adopted Resolution #716-16, authorizing the application and acceptance of a grant in the amount of $1,480,493 from the New Jersey Department of Health to fund Early Intervention Services that seeks to help children with developmental disabilities and delays age 0-3 receive early help and maximize their future potential.The grant from the state has increased significantly over the past several years, with $1,268,930 received in 2014 and $1,397,250 received in 2015. Department officials indicate that this is partially due to the increase in caseload, with 1132 active cases in 2014 and 1170 active cases in 2015. Currently the office has approximately 1300 active unduplicated cases, with more expected later in 2016. Another reason for the increase in funding is for technology upgrades, as New Jersey moves towards more centralized coordination across the State as well as mobile technology that will eventually allow coordinators to immediately input data in the field.
“Early Intervention is so important, not only for the 1 in 41 children born in New Jersey being diagnosed with autism, but for all children who experience other developmental disabilities or delays,” said Freeholder Vice Chairwoman Tracy Zur, who serves on the Human Services Committee. “We know that the earlier we can help these kids, the better the outcomes. I’m glad that Bergen County continues to receive increased funding from the State to help us deal with the ever increasing numbers of cases. I’d also like to applaud the dedicated coordinators in our office of Special Child Health Services, who work so diligently to help so many Bergen County families in what can be an especially trying time in their child’s first few years of life.”
The grant is administered by the Bergen County Department of Human Services’ office of Special Child Health Services, which uses the funding to serve as service coordinators for the New Jersey Early Intervention System. The Special Child Health Services service coordination unit is the single point of contact for families in Bergen County. Service Coordinators arrange, coordinate, and monitor a continuum of services for children and families of children age 0-3 with developmental delays or disabilities. Children are evaluated for eligibility on several different criteria, and the office then works with families to develop assessments and individualized plans which enable several comprehensive community partner agencies to ensure delivery of service. Service Coordinators also work with the 70 Bergen County school districts to facilitate a smooth transition for these children into preschool.
“We recognize that no one agency can tackle these issues alone, and our Early Intervention Service Coordinators do incredible work bringing all these agencies together,” said Freeholder Joan Voss, who chairs the Human Services Committee. “This is something that more and more of our families deal with and I’m proud that Bergen County is on the forefront of making sure our kids get the best start in life as possible.”
Referrals to Early Intervention can come from doctors and medical professionals, the NJ Department of Children and Families, child care and social service agencies, or self-referrals from parents. Families who are interested in learning more about Early Intervention Services are urged to call the State’s hotline at 1-888-653-4463 or to visit http://www.nj.gov/health/fhs/eis/ for more information.