Public Comment – Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Senate Bill 1060
Public Input Provided in 2013
Public Comment Senate Health and Human Services Committee March 19, 2013 Senate Bill 1060
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) is established by federal law in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act and governed by a 27 member board, appointed by the Governor, 60 percent of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities or family members of individuals with disabilities. TCDD’s purpose in law is to encourage policy change so that people with disabilities have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.
SB 1060 would require the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) to collect data that would allow the agency to evaluate the cost effectiveness of family cost-share provisions in the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program and to consider and implement any changes determined by the agency to improve cost-effectiveness. SB 1060 also instructs DARS to consider implementing family cost share provisions based upon the family’s size and adjusted gross income with families in higher income brackets being required to pay more than those same families paid before this bill’s implementation. The committee substitute for SB 1060 reportedly will stipulate that DARS may choose not to implement changes if they prove cost-prohibitive to families. However, concerns about reduced access remain.
The ECI program, administered by DARS, instituted a cost share as directed by the 82nd Texas Legislature. The cost share has not returned revenue sufficient to offset the administrative costs, largely because ECI families are overwhelmingly low-income. In its Government Efficiency and Effectiveness Report[i], the Legislative Budget Board reports that nearly 85% are below 300% of federal poverty level and more than 50% are below 100% FPL. Any additional family cost share seems likely to also create more administrative burden than revenue.
The ECI program provides children, their families, our communities and the Texas budget with a return on investment without cost share. Researchers for RAND Labor and Population conducted benefit-cost analyses, using accepted methodologies, for favorable effects of early childhood intervention programs that could readily be expressed in dollar terms. The estimates of returns to society for each dollar invested extend from $1.80 to $17.07[ii]. Another report from the Symposium on Early Childhood Science and Policy sponsored by the National Governor’s Association and Harvard University found that effective early childhood programs return $4 to $9 per dollar invested with benefits to the community through reduced crime, welfare, and educational remediation, as well as increased tax revenues on higher incomes for the participants of early childhood programs when they reach adulthood[iii].
Family cost-share and narrowing of eligibility in the past two years has reduced the number of children served over 5,400 per month and revenue from cost-share has provided additional revenue of less than one percent. The cost effectiveness of ECI is the return on our investment. The sooner children with or at risk of disabilities receive assistance and the sooner their families receive support towards their child’s development, the farther they will go in life and the greater the economic return.
TCDD recommends that publicly-funded services and supports be maintained and funded in a manner that ensures critical services and supports for children and families are not reduced or limited in order to balance the state’s budget.
Jessica Ramos Public Policy Director 512-437-5417