MEDFORD, Ore. — According to the Oregon Department of Education, funding for pre-kindergarten special education has dropped by roughly half since 2004. Services have cut by as much as two-thirds for kids with autism.
Parents came to the Medford Library on Friday to learn about the services available, and what they can do to promote early development. Special education services during the first five years of a child’s life are mandated by the state.
They include parent consultation, individual therapy and training, and preschool instruction, but experts say preschool services have dropped by a third since 2004. One-on-one care at the home has gone from a weekly service to twice a month. They say that holds children back by the time they reach kindergarten age.
“They’re not as prepared going into kindergarten because they haven’t received as much time in school learning how to be in school,” said Elaine Sands, with Child Development Services.
Experts say those first five years are important to development as that’s the time when the brain grows the fastest. They also say the amount of kids who require special education services is on the rise. Autism alone affects roughly 1 in 50 children in Oregon.