Rochester, NY - County Executive candidate Adam Bello today announced his plan for addressing the Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education Crisis in Monroe County.
“One of the fundamental responsibilities of any community is to protect and care for its children. By any measure, the current county administration is failing in that responsibility when it comes to supporting Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education services,” said Bello. “What is happening to the families and children in need of those services is a crisis that needs to be addressed immediately. Rather than blaming others and misleading stakeholders, as County Executive I will bring people together to implement a plan that addresses the problem and puts our children first.”
Bello, who made his announcement from the Irondequoit Town Library, noted that over the past several months he has met with providers, parents, and advocates to listen to their needs, identify the root causes of the problem, and develop an actionable plan. “Our providers are handcuffed by low rates set by the state and county, and a cumbersome billing process that creates unnecessary administrative costs. Compounded by insufficient county staffing, a lack of awareness and attention at the state level, and a complete lack of partnership and respect from Monroe County’s leadership, it’s no wonder this system has reached a breaking point. But we can and must do better.”
Bello outlined four concrete steps that Monroe County can take to alleviate the crisis, including 1) the creation of a new Preschool Special Education Related Services rate structure to better address provider needs; 2) hiring 10 additional service coordinators in Monroe County’s Department of Public Health and expanding their responsibilities into preschool special education; 3) lobbying efforts led by the County Executive to push state leadership to properly address the growing statewide crisis; and 4) establishing a county task force comprised of school district staff, the medical community, service providers, parents, advocates, and other stakeholders to examine the issue and identify achievable solutions.
“It’s time for a new approach to government in Monroe County – one where stakeholders are at the table, and their input is valued; one where decisions are made collaboratively and out in the open; and one where we stop pointing fingers and start solving problems,” Bello continued.
Bello was joined at the announcement by Brittany Jencik, a mother of fourteen children who have been involved in Monroe County’s Early Intervention Program over the past sixteen years. “These services have helped my children overcome unimaginable challenges and changed the trajectories of their lives. Our six-year-old would not be alive today if it weren’t for his therapists, so this crisis is deeply personal to me,” Jencik said. “We’ve been advocating for change for months now and I’ve experienced firsthand the stonewalling, lack of transparency, and misrepresentation of the facts by the current administration. It’s clear to me that we need real leadership, and that’s why I was so excited to talk to Adam and share my experiences with him. He gets it, and his plan will finally start putting our community’s children first.”
As the campaign progresses, Bello will continue to share his vision and highlight the need for new ideas, new energy, and new leadership in order to truly move Monroe County forward.