Parents fearful special infant, toddler education services will disappear with latest cuts

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LEAWOOD, Kan. --  Kansas budget cuts are prompting the agency that provides special services to infants and toddlers in Johnson County to ask for private donations to make up for big drops in its funding.

Infant and Toddler Services of Johnson County serves about 1,500 children that have developmental delays.

2-year-old Maya Dalton is one of the children who uses the service. Twice a week a therapist comes to Maya's home for an hour, to help her and coach her parents on how best to teach her because she has autism.

Using the early start Denver model, which is the latest evidence based training therapy, Maya's parents hope she will develop so that she doesn't need special education in school.

"They always say early intervention is best," said Joette Dalton, Maya's mother. "That's why at this point in Maya's life it's critical that she's getting the attention and the coaching she needs. Because, yes as they get further and further along in the school system I think it eventually could cost more money to help these children get through life."

The Daltons now worry the special help for Maya is in jeopardy after learning that continued state reductions in funding for the infant toddler program has created a $370,000 deficit.

The program's director says spending has been reduced as much as possible to meet the minimum federal and state requirements. She hopes private donations can make up for the shortfall and continue to serve children at a time when it can make the most impact.

For more information on how you can help the infant toddler program go to: www.itsjc.org.