Grand County family helped by Horizons and Little Points of Light
December 23, 2011
Horizons Early Intervention and Family Support Programs changed a bad situation into hope for Kim Cameron, a Granby resident and mother of four.
When now 5-year-old son Scotty was born with Down syndrome, the Horizons program staff stepped in.
Horizons Early Intervention and Family Support Programs offer services to children up to 3 years of age.
Deirdre Pepin is Horizons grants and publications coordinator. She said the Early Intervention program is designed to help children with developmental delays from birth to age 3. Services include developmental screenings and family-oriented therapy.
“Because the first three years of life are a critical window for development, Early Intervention has a significant impact on future services and support needs,” she said.
Cameron said that Horizons in Grand County was superb in its response while she was still in the hospital after delivering her son.
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“I had a message from Horizons before I got home from the hospital.”
Within a week of being home, a speech and occupational therapist came to her home two times a week for one-hour sessions. There was no cost.
Cameron said that when she talked to other families in Denver, there were waiting lists and children were turned away.
“After talking to other families I realized Horizons in Grand County was miraculous. I saw a 5-year-old who wasn’t walking yet. Scotty was walking.”
Scotty is Cameron’s fourth child and as a teacher she thought she knew how to work with him developmentally, but this was totally new to her. She learned from Horizons staff that crawling was important for Scotty’s upper body strength and how important it was to crawl before walking.
“They laid the basis for him to walk at 2. All the exercises they helped him with, I contrasted it to other children in the program I saw in Denver. When I compared my experience with people from Denver, I felt like I was bragging because the services here were so amazing.”
Scotty is now in preschool and doing well. Cameron said he is independent and she is thankful to the Horizons programs that kept him moving to the next step. Typically the program ends when a child turns 3; however, due to his speech impairment, it was recommended to keep him in speech therapy.
“Initially he wouldn’t talk,” Cameron said. “After Devyn Williamson, a Horizons speech therapist, started working with him in our home, he would start talking to her in a whisper. His speech is still unclear, it’s part of Down syndrome.”
She said that the nice thing about therapy in the home is that the entire family can watch the session.
“When Devyn is working with Scotty the entire family sees and can keep him on track with learning,” she said.
According to Susan Mizen, Horizons executive director, each program like Horizons has a contract with the Department of Human Services and organizations receive a combination of money from different sources. Part C, is federal money that pays for early intervention services. Horizons also receives state funding.
“Each program has a responsibility to bill insurance when available,” she said. “The state sets up a separate process for that. Some families have insurance that can be billed and some have Medicaid. When possible they are billed for services.”
Funding can be complicated.
“The state comes up with a best guess of how many families will be able to pay via insurance, and how many have Medicaid, then they look at historical data and how many children have been served in the state. They come up a formula that says Horizons served 60 kids last year so the state gives the program state and federal money to service 60 kids.
“Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t,” said Mizen. “If officials overestimate what can be billed to insurance, there is a gap. I know that every program in the state tries to provide services to every eligible child but sometimes things happen, sometimes the formula is not quite right or there are more eligible kids than could be predicted.
“If there is an increase in children, it throws off everything due to extra children,” she added. “It’s possible that Denver children got caught in that.”
What makes a child eligible for Horizons services? Mizen said that the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) team performs a multi-disciplined assessment on every child. The team looks at the results and if there is delayed development of 20 percent or more the child is eligible for services. Other factors that give children immediate inclusion is low birth weight or Down syndrome.
Points of Lights spokesperson Pepin said that years ago the organization decided to serve every child regardless of funding. The Little Points of Light campaign asks for donations and ensures that if a donor is from Grand County, the funds donated stay in Grand County.
“If you turn a kid away, the delays don’t go away. The earlier you address these issues, the more likely the kids will catch up and be mainstreamed,” said Pepin.
Roberta Hovermale, a service coordinator for Horizons in Granby, makes sure every family knows their rights and can find resources in the community.
“We are a community-centered board and in each community the board is responsible that services are made available,” she said. “There may be a waiting list depending on funding and who is available, but in Grand County we are fortunate to have the funding and we have utilized it well.”