It is easy to forget that politicians are public servants. As we head into another state level legislative session where the future of children with disabilities will be determined, we need to remember to use our voices and our stories to remind the politicians who serve us how important our kids are.
I recently had a chance to meet with Texas Senator John Cornyn. He had specifically asked to meet with people who work in the healthcare field and face the challenges every day of providing excellent services with limited resources. As an , I was excited about the chance to share some of my thoughts with him.
Our meeting with him went very well. He heard our concerns and all the good work that we do at Easter Seals Greater Houston. I stressed the importance of the positive and sustained long-term outcomes of receiving early intervention services and the cost effectiveness based on long-term studies. In addition, I had a chance to let him know that one of our biggest worries is that fewer children are eligible for life-changing services, especially children who are a little less involved/severe, but who could truly – measureably – benefit from services that are being left out. I have seen first hand what early intervention does – for many children therapy before the age of three means they will be school ready when they head to kindergarten. This is why one of Easter Seals main priorities nationally is Make The First Five Count. Without early intervention, the costs of providing therapy, special education and other help during school years are higher and the long-term outcomes for the child are worse.
Senator Cornyn agreed that we need to re-prioritize and I was glad to have the chance to share my thoughts with him. Our politicians-local, state and federal – are torn by so many demands on their time, on money available and on what is a priority. I think we need to let them know how important the families we serve are and we need to share that a little help today saves money and improves lives. I hope that you will join me in using your gift in the new year – the gift of your voice, the gift of your story and the gift of caring for some of our most vulnerable neighbors. Let them hear you – Its Time to Make The First Five Count!
Esther Puig, Occupational Therapist, Easter Seals Greater Houston