Parents Pay for First Steps for First Time
Two-year old Sydni Stratman isn't worried about money for First Steps. First Steps is an early intervention program that gives therapy and in-home help to kids with developmental disabilities.
"You're working with the children in their daily routines and helping them enhance the family to work with their child," said Terry Glassner.
This January, 8,000 Missouri families in the program will pay for services that used to be free.Childcare workers say the services are an important first step. The First Steps program began in 1988. It serves children between the ages of birth and three years old.
"The First Steps' program fees are on a sliding scale. Families will have to pay anywhere from $5 -10 a month. The amount they pay is based on family size and income. By implementing a fee schedule that takes into account the families ability to pay we think it will help preserve the program," said Jim Morrison of the Dept. of Education.
State officials are turning to private insurance and family fees to pay for this $26 million program. "The costs were getting unmanageable," said Morrison.
If families fail to pay they get warning letters at 30, 60, and 75 days. But at 90 days they will be kicked out of the program.
"We don't want kids to lose services because familes weren't able to pay, " said Morrison.