Educators say Oregon's early childhood programs need funding



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BEND, Ore. (AP) — Special education funding in Oregon hasn't kept up with a growing need for early childhood intervention for kids with disabilities or development delays.

Nearly 12,000 children across the state qualify for regular at-home visits with a specialist or special preschool enrollment, and federal law says eligible children must receive that help immediately, The Bulletin reported (http://bit.ly/1Rkz1LL).

Providers across Oregon are asking lawmakers for more money, which they say will help meet demand in the short-term and could avoid a potentially costly lawsuit in the long-term.

They are pushing for $5.4 million to avoid a shortfall in 2015-17 and an additional $15-20 million for long-term improvements to services.

High Desert Education Service District Superintendent John Rexford says the program's funding was cut post-recession.

"But what happened was when everything else was recovering — K-12 got a nice bump in funding — this program got left behind," he said.

Rexford is among those pushing for additional funding.

"We're kind of triaging this and taking it one step at a time," he said. "The first thing is we need to have at least the resources to serve the kids that are getting identified now at a much higher rate."

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Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com

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The Associated Press

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