Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Missouri First Steps

I have called the governor, my state representative, and my state senator. I am going to the capitol tomorrow for a public hearing, at which I hope to speak. I am sending ahead a picture of my "child who has been helped by the First Steps program" since I will miss most of the pre-hearing press conference. I have emailed the governor and my legislators, with a copy sent to each of the appropriate committee members. Here is the letter that I'm sending (along with a picture of Ellie) to my elected representatives:

February 8, 2004

Governor Matt Blunt
P.O. Box 809-A
Jefferson City MO 65102

Governor Blunt:

I'm sure that you've read all about how $1 spent on early childhood intervention saves more than $7 down the line. I'm sure you know that the First Steps program helps prepare children for entry into the public school system. Rather than talk about the economics and politics of the First Steps program, I'd like to tell you how First Steps affects my family.

I am 30 years old and my daughter, Eleanor, is 15 months old. She has Down syndrome. 40 years ago, children with Down syndrome were routinely institutionalized. It was thought that they could not learn.

Ellie has been receiving therapy through the Missouri First Steps program since she was 3 months old. At this point, she is tracking very close to developmental norms for her age group. At 15 months, she has 10 words (and understands many more). If I show her a picture of our church and ask her to point at the tree, she will point at the tree. If I hand her a shape, she can place it through the correct hole in the shape sorter. She crawls. She can feed herself. She helps to get herself dressed every morning. She is a loving, sweet, wonderful child and a greater blessing to our family than we could ever have imagined.

Ellie's successes come in part from her exceptional nature, but a lot of the credit goes to her wonderful First Steps therapists. Currently she sees a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a developmental therapist, and a speech therapist. They tell me that keeping Ellie "as close to developmental norms as possible" is a realistic goal. They tell me that she should be able to be in a typical classroom at school in a few years.

The First Steps program has had an immeasurable effect on my family. Please do not cut funding for this program.

Sincerely,
Ellie's family

cc:
Representative Richard Byrd
Senator Michael Gibbons

9 comments:

trisha said...

Good for you! Great letter.

I hope you get to speak; you should be heard.

I wish we had such a program available to us. Our early Intervention was such a colossal waste of time and energy.

Good luck, S!

Jessica said...

Sarahlynn,

I had no idea you were planning a trip to the capitol. I wish you the best of luck and I, too, hope you get to speak.

I hope this doesn't sound too corny but I'm very proud of you.

none said...

If there is anyway to help you with this, sign a petition, or *something*, let us know. Good luck!

Psycho Kitty said...

You.Kick.Ass. In the best way.
Knock 'em dead, honey. We'll all be thinking about you.

Grace said...

What a great letter, Sarahlynn. Good luck.

chasmyn said...

I heard about two women planning on going to the capitol - I had no idea you were one of them. Rock on! I can no longer sign petitions in MO not being a resident but I DID pass it around to folks I knew. Quinn had First Steps and it is one of the best damn programs out there, and I'll be damned if I just sit and watch it go away.l I still have friends in St. Louis with kids who use it, and it's a good program, very near and dear to my heart.

Also, I heard through the grapevine and cannot say how (I was sworn to secrecy on where the info came from) that the person who helped Mr. Blount come to that decision has been fired and that First Steps will likely survive all of this, because they have realized that it is more expensive NOT to have it. I hope to Goddess that this is true.

misskrob said...

I love seeing parents advocating for their kids, and for other people's kids! Our politicians need to put real faces onto issues and budget decisions. Way to go!

trisha said...

Hey, how did it go?

Zoe said...

Hell, I sign petitions and send letters from Missouri all the time, even though I don't live there. It's where I'm from, and I care what happens.
How'd it go?