The parents of a disabled toddler are fighting a breach in early intervention services for Delaware, Ottawa, and Craig counties.
Darren Buzzard and his wife Collette Janduar-Buzzard learned recently that the Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who provides services to their 15-month-old son is resigning and continuance of the service is uncertain.
“What we’ve been told is that our SLP would not be seeing clients after Christmas,” Collette Buzzard said. “There is also indication that there are no plans to rehire an SLP for Delaware, Ottawa and Craig counties.”
Doris Price is currently the area’s SLP. She provides habilitation, rehabilitation and prevention of communicative delays in development of communication skills for infants and toddlers n the client’s home through the SoonerStart program.
Price is part of a team of specialists who provided continual services to the Buzzards’ son, who was born with Downs Syndrome.
“The state is required to maintain this service under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),” Collette Buzzard said. “Our children develop rapidly between zero and trhee years of age. It is imperative that we maintain the services of a SLP that our state and federal laws mandate.”
According to Jane Ann Nichols, administrator of the Ottawa County Health Department, she will ask the state to retain an SLP for Ottawa, Delaware, and Craig counties.
Nichols said the need for the service has been recognized on the federal and state levels.
“There are existing clients in these areas,” Nichols said. “Federal funds have already been allocated for this service so I don’t foresee the (long term) absence of an SLP.”
Nichols said despite a state shortfall for community health services, the budgets for early intervention services are in place.
There may be a delay in the service until we find a replacement,” Nichols said. “But I am certain the service will continue.”
The Buzzards say that even a temporary loss of the service is unacceptable.
“Any break in services will delay our child’s progress significantly,” Collette Buzzard said. “our child is not the only child that will suffer from the lack of this service. There are many children in these three counties who are in need of this service.”
The Buzzards plan to meet with the director of SoonerStart and the Oklahoma Board of Education to express their concerns.
“My husband and I will take names and signatures (of support) with us,” Buzzard said.
Anyone wanting to support the Buzzard family in their fight, can do so by contacting Jandura-Buzzard via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.