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Rock County officials pleased with Birth to 3 transition

Janesville Gazette - 2/7/2020

Feb. 7--JANESVILLE -- Despite some families' initial concerns about service lapses for babies and toddlers, Rock County officials say a change in Birth to 3 providers has gone smoothly.

The Rock County Human Services Board voted unanimously in August to switch the program's provider from CESA 2 to United Cerebral Palsy of Dane County.

Julie Butz, program manager of Birth to 3 in Rock County, said only a "small amount of families" transitioned out of the program before the switch, and there haven't been any complaints since then.

"We've talked with lots of families, and they wanted to touch base and be kept in the loop, and we kept them in the loop, and I think things are going pretty well," Butz said.

The Birth to 3 Program serves babies and toddlers who have developmental delays or disabilities. Families are charged based on income and number of children with disabilities. Services for low-income families are covered by the county.

Kate Luster, county director of human services, said working with the new provider has been easy.

"The relationship with United Cerebral Palsy is extremely positive, and we are very pleased with their effort and collaboration through the process," Luster said. "It's a very big change to have hundreds of families transition from one program to another after years of service. I can't emphasize enough how positive that relationship is with UCP."

Butz agreed that the relationship is solid.

"It's been very collaborative. We feel like we've reached all of our referral sources and transitioned the families," she said. "There just is a lot of collaboration between the human services department and the new provider."

Butz said about 180 families currently receive services through the program.

County officials say they hope to hire more speech and language pathologists. Those positions are currently being filled by contracted providers, which the county has used to fill vacancies in previous years.

A combined grant with Dane County as well as a grant strictly for Rock County will add resources for Birth to 3 programs for children with social/emotional needs.

"This really relates to the intersect between child protection and Birth to 3," Butz said of the grant. "It's about getting the early interventionists involved earlier so we're helping children through the Birth to 3 program if they have needs."

When the transition started, the program was receiving about six family referrals a week. That number recently has risen to four to six referrals per day, Butz said.

Anyone can refer families to the Birth to 3 program, and Butz said she hopes that will continue so more families can be helped.

Rock County Administrator Josh Smith said families should continue to be patient as the county adapts to the new provider.

"I'd say we're still definitely in the transition period, and people have to be patient and understand that it's going to take time for the new provider to get going and for services to be provided in the way that ultimately they will," he said.


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