Heard Around Town

Audit: Children with disabilities did not receive services from state early intervention program

Physical therapy and speech pathology were among services the Department of Health was to provide, according to a report from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The New York state Capitol building in Albany, New York.

The New York state Capitol building in Albany, New York. lavendertime - Getty

A new audit from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office released Tuesday found that many of the state’s youngest children with disabilities did not receive or faced delays in receiving the services like physical therapy, speech pathology and vision services they are legally entitled to. 

Of the 189,000 infants and toddlers referred to the Department of Health’s Early Intervention Program between July 2018 and February 2022, 14% never received an evaluation, according to the audit. Of the 64% of children deemed eligible for the program, nearly 51% – 48,000 – didn’t receive all of the therapeutic services they were entitled to and 28% didn’t receive services within 30 days of when they were supposed to start. Around 30,000 children under three years old in New York City are referred to the program, according to the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. 

The data outlined in the audit, according to experts, is troubling as early intervention for children with a developmental delay or disability is vital. 

“Failure to provide babies and toddlers with early intervention services misses a critical window of opportunity and increases the risk of significant developmental and learning delays, and the need for more special education services in the future,” DiNapoli said in a statement. 

The audit urged the Department of Health to address the underlying reasons of why some children are not receiving services and others are experiencing delays.