CDCs Throughout the State Are Facing a Critical Situation and Need Your Support - Child Development Center of Natrona County

CDCs Throughout the State Are Facing a Critical Situation and Need Your Support

For over 50 years the Child Development Centers (CDCs) across the state have served children with early intervention services, preschool, family service coordination, and more. Each year thousands of Wyoming’s children that have a diagnosis or show a developmental delay are served by the CDCs. Should a child show a delay in speech/language, gross and fine motor skills, or cognitive skills the CDCs step in to get them on track and prepared for kindergarten. While each CDC in the 14 regions across the state is different, they all share the common goal of providing premiere, family-focused early intervention services for children who need it most.

Wyoming State Statute 21-2-706, Developmental Preschool Funding, states, “Contractual payments to developmental preschool service providers shall be sufficient for the providers to provide adequate services for children age birth through five (5) years of age with developmental disabilities and delays, including compensation levels for early childhood special educators, occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language therapists that are competitive with local school district compensation levels for those categories.” However, this is far from the case. For special education, the CDCs receive a quarter of what school districts receive and are required under IDEA to provide a free and appropriate education (FAPE) in the child’s Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

Up until 2022, the CDCs were receiving an average of $8,674 per child to provide early intervention services. “That amount is supposed to cover preschool for a child for a year, OT, PT, and speech services, facilities, maintenance, specialists, and more. It simply is not sufficient to meet the needs,” said Alisha Rone, Executive Director, Child Development Center of Natrona County. In 2022, the state granted the CDCs an external cost adjustment of $4M over two years, divided by the 14 regions. “For us that was a drop in the bucket,” said Patti Boyd, Executive Director, Children’s Learning Center of Teton County. “Without a substantial increase in the funding, I’m afraid in our region we will not be able to continue as is and we may have to discontinue services all together.”

“There is no plan if the CDCs go away. School districts cannot support these children, and we cannot leave any child behind. It is the state’s obligation to provide these services and it is the child’s right to receive these services,” states Tricia Whynott, Executive Director, Stride Learning Center in Laramie County. This upcoming legislation has yet another plea from the CDCs for approval of a substantial external cost adjustment to keep Wyoming CDCs viable. The Joint Education Committee is also working a draft bill that will increase the per child amount for the CDCs. “We are simply pleading to state leadership, legislators, and for those that care about Wyoming’s young children, of what has become a crisis. The state of Wyoming is out of compliance with its own state statute and the loss of these programs will be out of compliance with IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) federal regulations. I feel that the Wyoming way is to take care of each other and without these services the future for our young children is really in jeopardy,” said Boyd.