If you are reading this, it’s probably safe to assume that Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education (EI/ECSE) services have impacted your life in a positive way.  If so, your advocacy in support of these services is needed now more than ever!

The 2017 Oregon legislative session starts this week, and it’s more important than ever for YOU to take action in support of the programs and services that impact your life. Our legislators want to hear from you and benefit from your experience, so write an email, make a phone call, or give testimony at a legislative hearing!

As you may have heard in the news, Oregon has a $1.8 billion dollar budget shortfall that may result in further cuts to already underfunded EI/ECSE programs which have been unable to provide the levels of service that children and families need.

The Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means recently released their “Existing Resources Budget Framework, 2017-19” proposing reductions for almost every state agency, including Oregon Department of Education’s “Grant in Aid” budget (where the EI/ECSE budget resides). Although this budget framework does not take into account any additional revenue – i.e., it is based on what the state has in its “checkbook” right now – it is meant to be the starting point for budget discussions. The Ways and Means Subcommittees will use this high-level framework to develop detailed agency budgets in the coming months.

Oregon AEI is developing resources to help you in your advocacy. For example, an EI/ECSE fact sheet with current data and talking points to help you understand the issues and needed budget actions will come out next week via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

What can you do now to prepare for action in the meantime?

  • Join us in Salem on April 10th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm for the “DD Advocacy Day” focusing on EI/ECSE services.
  • Make appointments with your State Senator and your State Representative during the April DD Advocacy Day. (Don’t know who your Senator and Representative are?  You can look them up in the “Find Your District and Legislators” box here.)
  • Do some research and get to know your State Senator and State Representative by looking at their bios and other information on their legislative websites and social media. You can also learn about their activities and interests through Internet searches.
  • Practice telling your story about the impact EI/ECSE services have had on your family. If you are new to advocacy or haven’t told your story before, check out FACT Oregon’s online module, “Telling Your Story: Introduction to Advocacy” to help you prepare.
  • Our website also has advocacy resources to help you, and we will continue to post and link to additional helpful resources in the coming weeks and months.

There will another important advocacy opportunity in the coming months when the Co-Chairs hold public hearings statewide to provide you with an opportunity to weigh in on the budget and your needed programs and services. We expect the schedule for those statewide public hearings to be released soon.

Oregon AEI committed to helping you stay informed and supporting your advocacy for EI/ECSE services!