Special Needs Families Make Pleas To Colorado Lawmakers

By: Stephanie Ross Email
By: Stephanie Ross Email

Jennifer Pressey has a beautiful 18-month-old little girl who has Cerebral Palsy. The Pressey family was one of those urging state and local lawmakers to help get more funding for the developmentally disabled at a town hall meeting Monday night in Colorado Springs.

Jennifer had a normal pregnancy. She had no way of knowing the problems her new born girl Naomi would have.

"Her heart was stopped for 33 minutes. She should be in a box somewhere or be a vegetable but she's not," Jennifer says.

Naomi had to have multiple surgeries. It was during one of those operations when she stopped breathing and her brain was damaged. Naomi was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and epilepsy. Jennifer and her husband Steven have had to make many sacrifices just to pay for Naomi's care.

"We sold our house to make a life, so we could manage all of the needs we have now."

Even with insurance, the Presseys have to pay thousand of dollars every year for Naomi's therapy sessions. Luckily, they have a local organization, The Resource Exchange, the help out. They provide the much of the therapy Naomi needs. But like many organizations, The Resource Exchange is hurting for dollars.

"Colorado ranks 46th in the nation in terms of its financial support for people with developmental disabilities.. there's an estimate of 10,000 people across the state waiting for services," says David Ervin, the Executive Director of the Resource Exchange.

And according to Ervin, investing dollars in programs for the developmentally disabled is a good investment.

"For every dollar we spend on early intervention services, which is pretty intensive therapies we give to babies from birth to 3, we get $9 to $13 dollars in return," says Ervin. He also adds, "About 25 percent of the kids we serve in our early intervention program, graduate and never need special services again."

That's one of the messages that the many families that attended the town hall, stressed to city and state leaders Monday night.


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