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Lobbyist Money Help  

Development program for disabled children may be cut

February 9, 2005
By: Megan Clarke
State Capital Bureau

More than 100 Parents and their challenged children spoke-out against Governor Blunt's proposal to trim the state budget.

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In an attempt to trim spending, Governor Blunt proposed budget completely eliminates funding for the First Steps program.

The program helps disabled children from birth to age 3 with development and learning.

Some parents say Blunt's proposal will leave 8100 children in the dark.

Blunt says the program is inefficient and First Step stakeholders recognize billing problems.

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I CARE ABOUT THESE KIDS JUST LIKE THE TAXPAYERS OF THIS STATE DO, AND WE ARE GOING TO CRAFT A PROGRAM THAT MEETS ALL THE NEEDS.

Blunt says he is meeting with First Step stakeholders to create a more effective program.

By eliminating the program, the state would save about 17 million.

A state learning program for disabled children may fall victim to Governor Blunt's trimming of the state budget.

Megan Clarke reports

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Governor Blunt says the First Steps learning program is inefficient.

A statement that the First Steps adiministration agrees with.

First Steps helps 8100 diabled children from birth to age 3 with development and learning.

But the program at times is unsure if therapy services are paid for.

Blunt says he is working with First Step to create a more effective program.

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I CARE ABOUT THESE KIDS JUST LIKE THE TAXPAYERS OF THIS STATE DO. AND WE ARE GOING TO CRAFT A PROGRAM THAT MEETS ALL THE NEEDS.

If the program is eliminated the state will save an estimated $17 million.

In an attempt to trim the state budget, Governor Blunt wants to eliminate a developmental program for challenged children.

Parents says there is no other option to the program.

Megan Clarke reports.

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More than 100 Missouri parents brought signs, pictures and their stories to the State Capitol.

They came to speak for 8100 challenged children of the First Steps program, many can't speak for themselves.

They filled the House committee hearing room and many parents had to take turns standing outside in the hallway.

Dianne Schiefelbein 2-year-old son Blake has been in the First Steps Program for 7 months.

She says her son has done a 180.

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IT HELPS HIM JUST TO LEARN. WE WOULDN'T HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY WITHOUT FIRST STEPS BECAUSE THERE WON'T BE THE MONEY THERE FOR IT.

Schiefelbein says her family cannot afford Blake's therapy, which costs more than $500 a week.

Schiefelbein stays home to take care of her son and insurance does not cover his therapy.