East Texas Parents Seek Restitution for Young Daughter Due to Lapse in Critical Early Childhood Therapy Services

Posted on

November 29, 2016

Julia Longoria, Attorney

TYLER, TEXAS—Two-year old Haylee is a loving little girl challenged by significant developmental disabilities. Thanks to a dedicated team of therapists and the devotion and attention of her parents, she has made significant progress in
overcoming those challenges.

That progress is now at risk. The Andrews Center in Tyler, where Haylee has received state-funded therapy for 18 months, recently ceased providing Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) services to Haylee and hundreds of other children,
due to Medicaid rate cuts that have dramatically cut state funding to service providers across Texas.

ECI services are state funded services required by state and federal law to be provided to infants with disabilities from age zero to three, to help them overcome early developmental challenges and set them up for future success.

Unfortunately, when the Andrews Center ceased providing ECI services in Tyler, the state did not identify a replacement provider as required by law. With no other source for her therapy, Haylee’s progress came to a screeching halt.

This lapse in services is a direct violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and related state law. As a result, Disability Rights Texas (DRTx), a nonprofit legal advocacy agency, and its pro bono co-counsel Baker &
McKenzie, recently filed a complaint and request for due process hearing on behalf of Haylee against the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and the Andrews Center.

The complaint seeks relief to ensure that Haylee receives the critical services that she has a right to receive under the law. Most importantly, the complaint seeks an immediate resumption of therapy services for Haylee. It also requests an award of additional compensatory services to make up for the lost time during which Haylee was wrongfully denied services.

“Children like Haylee have a legal right to receive these critical services and the state has an obligation to promptly hear and resolve any complaints,” said Nick Kennedy, an attorney with Baker & McKenzie working on the case with DRTx. “Unfortunately, most parents in this situation don’t realize that they have a right to file a complaint to ask for compensation and relief when those services are denied.”

Julia Longoria of DRTx added, “I hope that other parents in East Texas and in any other place where services are being discontinued, cut or denied will contact DRTx to ensure their children receive the critical services they need. In child
development, every day is critical, so parents must act fast to protect their children’s rights.”

Parents who have children in ECI programs that have stopped or unjustifiably reduced services can call the DRTx intake line to request help. The toll free number is 1-800-252-9108, and hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Parents can also complete an online request at any time at intake.DRTx.org.

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Disability Rights Texas (previously named Advocacy Inc.) is the federally designated legal protection and advocacy agency (P&A) for people with disabilities in Texas. We are a non profit whose mission is to help people with disabilities understand and exercise their rights under the law, ensuring their full and equal participation in society. Visit www.DRTx.org for more information on our scope of services.