Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In the News Today: First Things First Sues the State

Here is the text from an article that came out on azcentral today, the link is below.

Educational group sues to recover $7 mil
by Matthew Benson - Mar. 31, 2009 12:00 AM The Arizona Republic

The First Things First early-childhood-education board filed a lawsuit Monday to block the state from taking $7 million from a fund created by Arizona voters three years ago.The special-action suit was filed in state Supreme Court and names as defendants Gov. Jan Brewer, state Treasurer Dean Martin and state Comptroller D. Clark Partridge. The suit comes a couple of months after state officials, as part of a $1.6 billion budget fix for fiscal 2009, moved $7 million in interest accruing from a First Things First account into the state general fund.Arizona voters in 2006 agreed to hike tobacco taxes as part of Proposition 203, which set aside the revenue for children's education and health programs. As with other voter-approved initiatives, the lawsuit argues that the funding is off-limits to cuts unless the Legislature can muster a three-quarters vote of the House and Senate and show that its action would further the intent of the initiative.This is at least the fifth lawsuit involving the 2009 budget.


My thoughts? I am still trying to figure out how on earth the legislature thinks it is okay to try to take funds intended and directed by the state's voters for the education of children. I just don't get it, I know this is the west, but the wild west days of doing whatever you want regardless of the rules should be over by now.Funny, they sure can find money to go to court and try to defend themselves, I haven't heard of them cutting funds for their legal expenses. I'll try to find more info on the other lawsuits listed and post it as well.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Someone Else...

I found this reprinted in an article recently, nobody knows the original author (at least I can't find it), but I thought it would make a good post on a lighter note, and I thought it makes a good point.

"Some years ago, there was an imagined obituary making the rounds of religious bulletins that speaks the issue of taking responsibility.

'"Our community was saddened to learn this week of the death of one of our most valued members, Someone Else. Someone's passing creates a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. Else has been with us for many years and for every one of those years, Someone did far more than a normal person's share of the work.

Whenever there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend, one name was on everyone's list: 'Let Someone Else do it.'"Whenever leadership was mentioned, this wonderful person was looked to for inspiration as well as results; 'Someone Else can work with that group.'

It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the most liberal givers in our community. Whenever there was a financial need, everyone just assumed Someone Else would make up the difference. Someone Else was a wonderful person; sometimes appearing superhuman.

Were the truth known, everybody expected too much of Someone Else. Now Someone Else is gone. We wonder what we are going to do. Someone Else left a wonderful example to follow, but who is going to follow it? Who is going to do the things Someone Else did? Remember - we can't depend on Someone Else anymore."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Raising Special Kids Event-March 28th

If you live in the Phoenix area, Raising Special Kids is having an event at the Mc Cormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale on Saturday the 28th from 10am to 2pm. FREE train rides, carnival activities, carousel rides, games, activity booths, clowns ,face painting, petting zoo, plus lots of food and ice cream...all for FREE!

Here is the link where you can download the flyer:


I am planning on attending with my son, hope to see you there : )

Got My Letter Restoring Services-on the 24th

Basically, it says pretty much the same exact statement on their website that I put out in an earlier post, services have been restored due to a court order, and they are appealing the decision. I noticed that it was post marked and dated on the 23rd when the order was given to send it out on the 11th.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Due Process Hearings - Another Point in Going Through With Them

I know AzEIP has been calling to "confirm" that people still want their hearings because they still have services now, they called me too. I have also seen some parents saying that AzEIP is willing to put their hearings "on hold" to see what happens and if the state's appeal goes through, they will initiate the hearings. They didn't tell me that, but if they did, I would not have agreed to it anyway.

Again, I'm not a lawyer, but it sounds odd to me. The legal timeline for hearings is 30 days from the date of the request, I'm curious to know how it could even be legal to put due process "on hold", if this is true, but maybe it is if they make it look like you requested it, I'm not entirely sure, I would appreciate input from someone that knows for sure if they would like to comment.

I'm going through with mine just the same, again DDD's decision has not changed at all, they are being forced to provide services due to the court order, they want their letters to still stand.

I was going through some notes I had from speaking with the Department of Education in Washington, DC when all of this started. Things were still hectic then, and I was just trying to gather information from anywhere I could find it. At that time they advised me to go through the procedural safeguards (I had forgot I even had a booklet, at the time we signed up, my son had just came home, was on oxygen, and I was operating on zero sleep) file for the due process hearing, and if my son's services were still not restored at that point, they would look at my filing a civil rights violation complaint with them. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but it sounds like there would be a pretty strong case with them if due process fails.

I'm willing to bet DES doesn't want any investigations of their program on the federal level, especially considering the fact that the Department of Health and Human Services just dinged them on some of their AHCCCS policies.

We'll see.

Tax Increase Rumors

There have been a few rumors floating around that our services have been removed as a political move to make a case for increasing taxes, and if voters vote down the tax increase, the removal of services will be permanent. I sincerely hope that this is just a rumor and this is not true, I personally have difficulty wrapping my head around the idea of victimizing handicapped children and their families to make this. I would hope that if this was the case, those involved do not truly understand the emotional toll and impact it has had on us all, I just can't understand it if it is intentional, or even true.

One thing I can say to them is this. I will not give up on my son. Not now, not ever, period.

I sat by him in a hospital for 72 days, there were a few close calls, and as difficult as this struggle is, it is a cake walk compared to what I had to go through helplessly watching him struggle just to stay alive. I'm sure there are many parents in the same boat, if we can make it through that, we can can make it through anything.

No matter what happens. If the final decision is to take services away, it will probably effect him and his functioning for the rest of his life, and I cannot let that go no matter what happens. Even if we loose services, we will not loose our voices, and plan on still using mine no matter what happens.

Monday, March 23, 2009

AZEIP Due Process Hearing

I'm still waiting for my hearing to be scheduled. I did receive a call from AZEIP wanting to know if I still wanted to go through with the hearing since my son's services are continuing because of the injunction. I asked if DES/DDD changed their mind about whether or not to cut his services, the answer was no, they were just calling everyone to verify that they still wanted to continue with the hearing, even if services were in place, be careful and keep in mind that they ONLY reason services are in place now is because DES/DDD is being FORCED to do so by a court order, without that order, we wouldn't have anything. I did say I wanted to continue with the hearing, I would advise everybody to do the same.

Has anyone had their hearings scheduled or had a hearing yet?

I never received the letter that they were supposed to send out per the order that indicates services are being restored because of the injunction, has anyone else?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Due Process Template Letter

Copy to word, edit it with your info, and then save and print it. I strongly encourage everyone to do this, and I also encourage all providers to help your families to fill out and send in this form. All letters must be sent to Molly Bright in order to be processed.

_______________, 2009

Molly Bright
Part C Coordinator
DES/AzEIPArizona Early Intervention Program
Department of Economic Security
3839 N. 3rd Street Suite 304
Phoenix AZ 85012

Dear Ms. Bright: My child, _______________ whose date of birth is___________, is a child with a disability who has had an IFSP since _______________ through AzEIP only, DDD state only, DDD ALTCS, or ASDB (circle one). I am writing to request a due process hearing under 34 CFR 303.429 and 34 CFR 303.420, it is my understanding that a hearing officer should be appointed and the matter should be heard and decided within 30 days, during that time my child must continue to receive the appropriate early intervention service(s) being provided under the last agreed upon Individual Family Service Plan, as noted in AzEIP’s procedures, during the pendency of the due process proceeding. DES/AzEIP has violated IDEA Part C by failing to provide appropriate services for my child with a disability by proposing to eliminate or reducing the following services included on my child’s IFSP __________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________. Furthermore, I was not afforded the opportunity to participate in a meeting to discuss the proposed elimination or reduction of services and did not receive a prior written notice (PWN) or procedural safeguards. 34 CFR 303.403(a). The remedies that I seek include: the continuation of services during the pendency of the due process complaint, compensatory services or funding for any services missed or not provided, and immediate approval for reinstatement of the eliminated/reduced services. Further, I request the opportunity to review my child’s record pursuant to FERPA.



Friday, March 20, 2009


Okay, in talking with a lot of different people, I've found out that only about 100-200 due process hearings have been filed out of the approximate 4,000 of those who lost services. There have been remarks that most of us must not care too much if we don't file for one, this number is very low to me, my theory is that a lot of people have been filing for the "Administrative Review" in their letters instead of the due process hearings. I have confirmed with various sources that these are DEFINITELY NOT THE SAME THING! Not even close. Many agencies are asking people to not file for an "Administrative Review" even if you have, you need contact AZEIP to make sure you receive, fair, legal, mandated due process. This is the only way for you to assert your rights and the rights of your families, this is something that we all can do.

I know services have stayed in place but this is only due to a TEMPORARY INJUNCTION from the court, it is not permanent by any means, our services are not safe. We still need to keep going and if we wait, it might be too late. PLEASE FOLLOW THROUGH WITH THE HEARING EVEN IF YOUR SERVICES HAVE BEEN RESTORED.

I know this has been an emotionally exhausting time, and I know that we dread what would go on in a hearing and fear the outcome would not be positive. For a lot of us including myself, this has been traumatic to say the least, I know we have been feeling devastated, hopeless and helpless, very reminiscent of when our children received a diagnosis, or when we found out we would not have the "normal" lives we had come to expect. Even though it feels the same THIS IS NOT THE SAME. We can and should try to DO something about it, there is HOPE. Don't give up! We have faced things other people could not begin to comprehend, we have survived, and thrived, and we are much stronger and tougher than we are given credit for, or that we even give ourselves credit for. WE CAN FIGHT THIS!!!!! I am going to fight this for as long as it takes, I will not give up, period. I will do whatever I can to support anyone who wants to fight too.

PLEASE PLEASE Contact AZEIP. I believe the yahoo group on my sidebar has template posted already for what should be said, copy and paste it to a word document, fill in the blanks, print it and then snail mail it via us post office. If you need a hard copy because you don't have a printer, let me know and I will put you in touch with someone that can mail you a hard copy (just post something, it sends me a message, I moderate all comments, so if you don't want the message posted publicly just let me know)

I know the hearing sounds intimidating, but keep in mind these were structured with the thought in mind that parents are not attorneys, they are meant to be accessible and unintimidating. I had some transportation and childcare concerns, I have been told by AZEIP that the hearing can be conducted by telephone as well, you don't need to travel to a courthouse if you don't want to. I will post the form below and in a separate post

_______________, 2009
Molly Bright Part C Coordinator DES/AzEIP
Arizona Early Intervention Program
Department of Economic Security
3839 N. 3rd Street Suite 304
Phoenix AZ 85012

Dear Ms. Bright: My child, _______________ whose date of birth is___________, is a child with a disability who has had an IFSP since _______________ through AzEIP¡¾only, DDD¡¾state¡¾only, DDD¡¾ALTCS, or ASDB (circle one). I am writing to request a due process hearing under 34 CFR 303.429 and 34 CFR 303.420, it is my understanding that a hearing officer should be appointed and the matter should be heard and decided within 30 days, during that time my child must continue to receive the appropriate early intervention service(s) being provided under the last agreed upon Individual Family Service Plan, as noted in AzEIP’s procedures, during the pendency of the due process proceeding. DES/AzEIP has violated IDEA Part C by failing to provide appropriate services for my child with a disability by proposing to eliminate or reducing the following services included on my child’s IFSP __________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________. Furthermore, I was not afforded the opportunity to participate in a meeting to discuss the proposed elimination or reduction of services and did not receive a prior written notice (PWN) or procedural safeguards. 34 CFR 303.403(a). The remedies that I seek include: the continuation of services during the pendency of the due process complaint, compensatory services or funding for any services missed or not provided, and immediate approval for reinstatement of the eliminated/reduced services. Further, I request the opportunity to review my child’s record pursuant to FERPA.


Yesterday's Rally

My son and I attended yesterday's rally at the state capital. It was encouraging to see so many people there, and especially encouraging to see how many people have read and are continuing to read this blog! I'm so happy that this is helping so many, it was exactly what I intended, so I will definitely keep it up!

I got a lot of very good info that I will be breaking out into different posts to make it easier to read.

One thing that struck me was the Outback Steakhouse trucks catering lunch for our legislature. There were a few theories on how it was being paid for, some saying that lunch was "donated" but I don't think anybody confirmed it. In these hard economic times, really should our elected officials be eating steaks in public on the lawn of the Capital? I find it very inappropriate, no matter who's paying. There are people now starving, food banks are running out of food, and our officials are eating a "donated" lunch from a STEAKHOUSE ON THE FRONT LAWN? There are people like us who feel that the future of our children could be devastated with these budget cuts, these people seem to feel that our children can go without their medically necessary services, but hey, they can't go without their free lunch. Maybe the taxpayers footed the bill, which would make it even worse, who knows? Here are a couple of pictures:

These were just a few that I took at the rally

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rally at the Capital This Thursday March 19th

Here is an email that was forwarded to me:

I'm sure you have all been on edge about the suspension of Early Intervention services that almost took place last week. It was a huge relief for all of us when we learned last Thursday that the Maricopa County Superior Court, as a result of a lawsuit filed by AAPPD and affiliated agencies, granted a Preliminary Injunction that prevented these cuts from taking place. This was a very close call and Arizona is certainly not out of the woods yet regarding this matter. I strongly encourage all agencies, providers, and families who receive services from the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) to continue to be proactive and fight to ensure that the State of Arizona uses federal stimulus dollars to preserve funding for Early Intervention and all DDD-funded services across the state.

To help support this cause, please join AAPPD and its affiliated agencies at a rally this Thursday, 3/19 from 11:30-2:30pm at the State Capital Complex (1700 W. Washington). We will gather near the Wesley Bolin parking lot (located on Jefferson St. just East of 17th Ave) from 11:30a-12:30p, and at 1pm we will march over to the lawn of the capital complex where we will continue to make our voice be heard. The time of the rally is corresponding with a meeting of the Appropriations Committee, and it is this committee that will have a significant influence over whether or not some of Arizona's stimulus dollars will go toward the preservation of programs funded by the Division of Developmental Disabilities. Please dress in all black to help us make our statement. We are bringing 100+ signs, and also water and sunscreen.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Friday I received a phone call, guess what? The DDD hotline was returning the phone call I had made to them TWO AND A HALF WEEKS AGO. They were happy to inform me that services will be restored now, and they are sending out letters, and if I wanted to I could look at the statement on their website.

My answer? I know already.

I had a few questions though, here is what I asked and the response:

How long will this injunction last?
We don't know. It's possible it could last indefinitely.

Indefinitely? Really? What about the appeal? What date is that scheduled for? Doesn't that depend on the outcome of the appeal? What is the plan until then?
We really don't know. All we know is that for now we have restored services, we really don't know what is going to happen.

What date is the appeal scheduled to be heard?
We don't know.

What is the plan until the appeal? Are you looking at any plans or making arrangements in case it goes through?
No plan really, we have restored services for now.

My son is on AHCCCS, and has private insurance. I was attempting to make arrangements to try to have his providers bill both private insurance and AHCCCS as well to pay for some of his therapy because it is medically necessary, and they probably should have been paying for it anyway in the first place under EPSDT, have you looked at that if DDD is having budget problems? Are you going to work on assisting us and providers to help make a transition so we don't loose services if the injunction is overturned?
It's a moot point now, because we have restored services, they will continue so as long as you have services you really don't need to do that, but you can if you want to.

That was the gist of it. I'm not surprised they don't know anything, if they do, they aren't saying it. According to them there isn't any further info. What I can tell you is that the court minutes indicate that there is going to be an "in-person status conference" on April 15th at 5pm, which ironically they could have told me because it is public information anyone can look up.

I hate to pessimistic, but I feel if I prepare for the worst, I won't be disappointed. My personal plan is to still look into trying to have my son's providers bill his AHCCCS plan for services if they are willing to, I can't really force them, but it might be a good idea to be prepared, and see if that is an option in case something weird happens the next time everyone goes to court. I view it as kind of a safety net for us, just in case.

I am also planning on going through with the due process hearing, just in case. It's not like DDD voluntarily restored services, or they changed their minds about it, they were forced to do so by court order, so really I want the decision to remove his services overturned.

Does anyone know if DDD gets any of the Medicaid money from AHCCCS for providing medically necessary services for children in their program? AHCCCS is required to provide those services under EPSDT, I think DDD should get a piece of that funding since that is really what that funding is for, in fact, if they don't I would hope they take another look at it, it would be a good way to secure some extra dollars.

Friday, March 13, 2009

DES Statement

The following is currently posted on the DES website:

On March 11, 2009, Judge Joseph Heilman of the Maricopa County Superior Court issued a Preliminary Injunction prohibiting the Arizona Department of Economic Security from suspending services for non-residential state-only services and reducing provider rates. As long as the Preliminary Injunction remains in effect, services to consumers receiving non-residential state-only services will continue and provider rates will not be decreased. The reductions in the Division of Developmental Disabilities are necessary to help DES offset $103 million in budget reductions and fund transfers contained in SB1001, as well as $50 million in unfunded shortfalls. Accordingly, DES is appealing this decision and requesting that the Preliminary Injunction be stayed.

So for now, we have services, we don't know what will happen under appeal. Personally, I am going to be following through with the due process hearing with AZEIP anyway, I would recommend everyone else does too, if for nothing else, to have it on record just in case the state tries to pull this again. I think they need to see we will not allow them to do this to us and our children without a fight.

AZ Central Article

I was reading AZCentral.com today and came across an article here is the link:


I don't like this article at all, I don't think they accurately reported on a lot of the issues and concerns that we have, they left out details like the fact that the judge found that the state violated the constitution (both in Arizona and the US Constitution) and violated the rights of children and disabled citizens. I will probably wind up writing the reporter, if you feel the way I do I would encourage you to do the same. I have a few things going on today, I will try to get to it within the next few days.

For some funny reason the link to the reporter's email was not working on the article, so I went into the online staff directory to pull it for you. Here is her email address:

maryjo.pitzl@arizonarepublic.com <maryjo.pitzl@arizonarepublic.com>

If you would rather phone, the number listed is

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Court Case Update

It looks like there was a judgement issued in the case filed against the state in Maricopa County Superior Court, my son's DSI was kind enough to email a copy, I'm having some problems converting the file into something that can be read on blogger, but I'm working on it. It basically stated that the court granted the injunction against the state, ordered them to not proceed with the budget cuts, and ordered them to send out letters advising everyone of the judgement. I'll keep working on getting the text up, you can read the court minutes with the info I have posted earlier on how to look up the minutes in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Here is a link to the minutes, it is a 21 pager!


Here's a link to an article in the AZ Republic about it


I'm very excited and relieved with this ruling, I feel that some of what I have been saying all along has been validated, the manner in which all of this was done violated state and federal laws, and violated our rights!

However, there is still work to be done, I'm sure the state will appeal this ruling, and who knows what will happen then?

I am still planning on proceeding with the due process hearing and the grievance process, just in case, but I do believe this sets a good precedence, and this info will be useful to me in preparation for that hearing as well, it gives info on the specifics of the laws and rules that were violated and how they were violated, and exactly what procedures were supposed to be followed and were not.

This also begs the question for me, if the state is so broke, how do they have the time, money and resources to fight this? I would like to know how much of our tax dollars is being spent in this battle! They won't service children, but they will fight in court? How much is being wasted there? Wouldn't those resources be best served someplace else?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2nd Letter From DES? Anyone?

On a previous post, someone said they got a 2nd letter from DES stating that services were discontinuing as of a month ago? I haven't checked my mail today, but so far, I haven't gotten anything yet, let me know if you have, I'm not sure what they are doing if they purposely sent these out (and not just someone accidentally hitting the wrong key on the computer). Maybe they missed a deadline to cut their budget or something, and someone is backtracking to make it look like a letter went out, that would be my best guess, I'll let everyone know if I get one and what it says. Thanks for keeping me informed!

I'm also going to try to set up some polls, not sure if they will work, let me know if there are any issues.

AHCCCS Policy Manual

It occured to me yesterday while I was pulling an old copy I had from my case management days that everyone might want to know that the AHCCCS medical policy manual is online and can be accessed. It has some good info on the policys and procedures AHCCCS is supposed to follow, and it has a lot of good info on ALTCS and their policies and processes. Here is the link


There is not too much on DDD in it though, or at least that was left out when they posted it if it was in there to begin with.

It shows chapter 1500 and 1400 are blank and "reserved" but I was able to find them with google

Chapter 1500:

Chapter 1400:

One of the comments I just got has a link for the DDD Manual, I'll post it here for everyone, and I'll try to get a chance to go through it tomorrow if I can


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Court Case Update

There was an injunction/restraining order filed against the state in Maricpoa County Superior Court, there was a little blurb on the news on channel 10, here is the link to the video


I looked up the case minutes, it looks to me like the judge is going to grant the order, but it looks like it will be temporary, it seems that the judge ordered them to go confer and come up with reasonable timelines for the injunction to last, I'm not a lawyer, so I don't claim to be able to interpet them correctly, it's just what it looks like to me. You can go to the Clerk of Superior Courts Office and look up the minutes here:


the case number is CV2009006509

If anyone is an attorney and would like to add more insight, it would be more than welcome!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Legislative Awareness Day

There is going to be a Legislative Awareness Day on the Capital Building lawn from 8:30 AM to 2PM, here is the link with more info:


I haven't decided if I'm going to attend, I don't have a sitter, and I would have to bring my son with me, since it is still RSV season, we would have to remain outdoors. I live a good 45 minute to hr drive away from the capital, I'll see how we feel tomorrow, it does look like it might be a good event to attend, I'm sorry I didn't find out about it sooner.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Due Process Hearing vs Administrative Review NOT THE SAME THING AT ALL

I am the first to admit I am not a lawyer, but in reviewing both the letter DES sent us and the Safeguards Manual, some things have become apparent:
  • It states in the letter that if you apply for an "Administrative Review" your services will not continue
  • It states in the Procedural Safeguards manual that if you apply for a hearing, your services continue until the hearing, and what happens after that depends on the outcome

Please be aware THESE ARE NOT THE SAME THINGS AT ALL. They are different processes, in fact, I'm not entirely sure that "Administrative Reviews" even existed before these letters went out, I have a feeling it is a way for them to buy time, waste time, avoid hearings because people might think it is the same thing (they certainly gave that impression) or that it acts as a substitue which it does not, and they are probably planning on declining every single request with no intention of really considering keeping services in place at all. It also might be a sneaky way for them to discontinue services if people apply for a hearing as well, using the dispute letters as a way of confirming that people were aware of the discontinuation and choose that option by writing them a letter. I personally choose the only option in which it states clearly in writing that services will stay in place, and at this point unless a legal professional tells me otherwise, I would recommend others do the same thing I did, ONLY request a due process hearing, and file a system complaint, DO NOT FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE LETTER. The form and structure is under question as to if it is even legal, they did not use the proper format, and didn't advise anyone of their rights.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Contact with AZEIP

I spoke with a representative at AZEIP today on the phone because I had mailed in a complaint letter last week, and I told her about the letter I recieved from DES discontinuing my son's services without a meeting, my knowledge, consent, or reasonable written notice. She asked if there was an IFSP in place, because the state is required to provide those services, which we do. She told me the following:
  • I have the right to file a complaint and request a hearing. It is helpful to list specific complaints, i.e. service reduction without a meeting, not meeting IFSP goals etc. and you believe this is a violation of IDEA part C. This has to be in writing and signed.
  • I also have the right to file a system complaint if I believe that this is occuring to other parents and is a "system" problem, they are obligated to launch and investigation into the matter once they recieve a complaint. This also has to be in writing.
  • Document that the letter states that this sudden reduction is due to budget shortfalls and that to your knowledge this is not a legal reason to discontinue services
  • They have 30 days to schedule the hearing, they can schedule this hearing by phone
  • The 30 day timeline starts the day they recieve the complaint letter
  • It is also helpful to forward them a copy of the IFSP, otherwise they have to get it from your caseworker, I sent them my son's

I would encourage everyone to contact their local AZEIP office, discuss that your options and rights are with one of their representatives and decide the best course of action for you. They did allow me to fax an additional complaint letter and a copy of my son's IFSP.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I received a flyer on email, thought I would share, it has some good info.

Whether your child receives early intervention services from AzEIP, ASDB, or through DDD (ALTCS or State-only funded) any changes in services to your child and family must follow the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and must be:

  • Written, individually to a family (no mass mailing, not over the phone, not verbally only);
  • Written on the form called Prior Written Notice; Proposed using the Prior Written Notice and must include what changes they propose, when the change will go into effect, and why the change is proposed;
  • As the result of your child and family’s resources, priorities and concerns, and cannot be as a result of loss of funding;
  • As the result of an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) Team meeting that discusses the
  • Prior Written Notice and after the TEAM (of which parents are a member) decides on the changes;
  • Followed whether your child is receiving services through DDD (ALTCS or state-only), ASDB, or AzEIP;
  • Services can only be stopped is if the parents choose to withdraw their consent to participate or the child no longer needs services;
  • They can't reduce services unless the TEAM (Which includes you, (your spouse or other caregiver), therapists, and anyone else who works with your child (with the exception of hab workers) decides and you consent;
  • Once you file for dispute resolution services must stay in place without the proposed reductions;
  • If anyone tries to change/reduce or eliminate your child's services without a Prior Written Notice or your consent:
    do not sign any papers saying you agree;
    keep records of any services missed because you are entitled to compensatory services (they will have to make it up later) tell them they need to give it to you in WRITING because at that point you can appeal it

Further, cutting $7m from the 2009 budget and cutting services to families currently in early intervention jeopardizes another $29 million for this program! If the state cuts services to families with IFSPs without a family's consent or a Prior Written Notice than the state is ineligible for the stimulus dollars for this program, as well as for the regular federal money. That number totals $29 million for Arizona and cannot be used for ANY other program.
Contact AzEIP to inform each of them that you want to file a state complaint and begin the dispute resolution process to restore your child and family’s services.

Sample Complaint Letter

I would not recommend you apply for and Administrative Review, I would recommend you call your local AZEIP office and request a due process hearing, the IDEA part c safeguards manual states that services must stay in place as opposed to the Administrative Review where they state that it does not. I considered deleting this post, but decided to keep it up for those that decide that the Administrative review is the route they should take. The info was sent to me from my son's DSI; it is from the AZ Autism Coalition, this is a TEMPLATE it needs to be customized for each situation if you choose to use it.


IDEA Part C Procedural Safeguards

If your child is between the ages of 0-3 and has been affected by these cuts, you have Federal safeguard rights that are meant to protect your child. Early intervention is partially funded by both State and Federal dollars, thus you must take action and appeal your child's termination of services. Follow the appeals process (Administrative Review) carefully that is specifically detailed in the DES letter -- you have 35 days from the date of the letter to appeal.

Here is a sample letter:

To Whom It May Concern:

My child is 2 years old and has a diagnosis of ___________. He/she has been receiving one hour per week of occupational therapy and speech therapy since July 2008, along with two hours per week with a developmental specialist. I received a letter from DES dated March 3, 2009, informing me that my child would no longer be receiving any therapies after March 13, 2009, due to the State's economic hardships.

I respectfully request an Administrative Review and appeal this decision to remove services from my child. My child is entitled to early intervention services based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). According to Federal IDEA policy, services can only be stopped if the parents choose to withdraw their consent to participate or the child no longer needs services. Neither of which is the case. Also according to IDEA, services must stay in place while dispute resolution takes place.

Removing services from my child in this manner is a direct violation of IDEA, and I fully intend to dispute this removal of early intervention services.

Please visit the Arizona Autism Coalition website, www.azautism.org for information and updates.

Contact with the Department of Education in DC

I've spoken with a person at the US Department of Education in Washington DC and they are interested in these cases because 1) under IDEA section C the state is required to provide these services and 2) the state is recieving federal funding from them.

She advised me that there are a few things that we have to do before we can file a formal complaint for them to officially investigate:

1. Contact DDD representative and/or hotline, point out that your child's IFSP lists services they are supposed to be recieving , apparently this is a legally binding document, also advise them that you have not recieved a written notice of discontinuation which is your right according to their procedural safeguards, record their response, name, date, time and what agency they were through. If they deny services or if they don't call back document your attempts to contact them, also document name date and time of your discussions with any service providers and their reporting to you they are discontinuing services per DDD even though IFSP goals have not been met and you have not recieved written notice

2. Call your local AzEIP office, tell them your services have been discontinued and IFSP goals have not been met, and request to file a complaint, and request your right to appeal, record who you talk to and what they say, names, dates and times.

3. Once this is done and if you don't get any results, contact the US Department of Education in DC and file a formal complaintThe reason we have to go through these steps is because they want concrete evidence that the act has been blatently violated before they can step in, apparently this is also a civil rights issue as well and they want a lot of specifics before they can charge the state with civil rights violations. I'm working on it now, let me know how it goes, and I'll keep you posted too.

Department of Education Info

Here is the info for the office of civil rights (OCR) that operates out of the Department of Education they have a lot of good information about programs and your rights as a parent their website is


The OCR office for Arizona is located at:
Denver OfficeOffice for Civil RightsU.S. Department of Education
Cesar E. Chavez Memorial Building
1244 Speer Boulevard, Suite 310
Denver, CO 80204-3582
Telephone: 303-844-5695FAX: 303-844-4303; TDD: 877-521-2172Email: mailto:OCR.Denver@ed.gov

U.S. Department of EducationOffice for Civil RightsCustomer Service Team
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-1100
Telephone:1-800-421-3481FAX: 202-245-6840; TDD: 877-521-2172Email: mhtml:%7B6B5452CF-E9A0-4B00-B26C-17DC23E26AC7%7Dmid://00000942/!x-usc:mailto:OCR@ed.gov

Procedural Safeguards

It turns out there are some steps that are supposed to be followed, here is my summary of the rights they have listed in the booklet, a link to the whole booklet is in a previous post.

  • If there is a request or refusal to change an evaluation, supports, or services being provided and IFSP(Individualized Family Service Plan) team meeting takes place
  • To recieve written notice within a "reasonable amount of time before a change is made to your child's services
  • To used established conflict resolution processes such as mediation and due process hearings
  • Under IDEA part C families are guaranteed three formal ways to resolve disagreements 1. Mediation 2. Due Process Hearings 3. System Complaint

To issue a system complaint you have to snail mail the complaint to:

Executive Director, DES/AzEIP

3839 N 3rd St, Suite 304

Phoenix, AZ 85012

Legal Advocacy Center Communication

Here is some info I recieved from a legal advocacy agency that specializes in the needs of the disabled. I spoke with someone there, they are doing research on the legality of what AZ is doing

Thank you for your email. I am not an attorney, however, I am writing in response to your email. Indeed, we are hearing about issues such as yours with AzEIP. The following is a link to the AzEIP Procedural Safeguards document for your review: https://egov.azdes.gov/CMS400Min/InternetFiles/Pamphlets/pdf/PAK-628.pdf

The Center is in the process of analyzing all of the cuts right now to determine what if any role we can play to maintain or restore services. However, we do not generally handle a lot of issues regarding AzEIP and have only limited information on those cuts at present, so what we would suggest is to make a request for written notice of termination of services and use your legally mandated procedural safeguards, available online at: https://egov.azdes.gov/cmsinternet/main.aspx?menu=98&id=2366&ekmensel=15074e5e_98_0_2366_9

and if there are appeal rights, appeal. Please note that there is some segue between early intervention and a child’s right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

My understanding with respect to AHCCCS cuts is that most will not impact direct services to members, and in fact, under Arizona law, your AHCCCS health plan is required to provide “medically necessary” services. “Medically necessary” is defined in pertinent part as a “covered service provided by a physician to prevent disease, disability, and other adverse health conditions or their progression; or prolong life.”

A federal law that requires states receiving Medicaid funding, which includes Arizona, to provide Early and Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services for persons under the age of 21 who receive Medicaid.

Under federal law, EPSDT services include preventative and rehabilitative services, including any medical or remedial services recommended by a physician or other licensed practitioner of the healing arts within the scope of their practice under State law, for the maximum reduction of physical or mental disability and restoration of an individual to the best possible functional level. You can review the AHCCCS EPSDT policy regarding services for persons receiving Medicaid/AHCCCS/ALTCS under age 21 at: http://www.ahcccs.state.az.us/Regulations/OSPpolicy/chap400/Chap400.pdf

Also, if you have not done so already, you may wish to apply for Arizona Long Term Care Services (ALTCS) if he meets their eligibility requirements, which basically requires that his disabilities are of such severity that he is “at risk of institutionalization.” I enclose our ALTCS Eligibility Fact Sheet for your review.

**Side note, I had applied for ALTCS for my son when he was discharged from the hospital on oxygen, I applied for services in October, they did not evaluate him until April, and at that time told me he was too healthy for services because he was off of oxygen

About This Blog

On February 20, I recieved a call that my son's Early Intervention Services were going to be discontinued as of March 1 due to budget cuts. I must admit I am very angry and frustrated about the way this has been handled, they originally told us this on a Friday, and I don't think it was an accident. Nobody had anything in writing, rumors are going like crazy, it was completely disrespectful, unprofessional, and inappriopriate. As parents of special needs children, we are under a large amount of stress and pressure, having a bombshell verbally dropped on us like this with no warning, and a less than a week's transition period caused a large amount of stress for us all, we didn't even hear directly from any state representatives, we had been informed by our contracted providers.

Since then there has been a lot of things going back and forth, yesterday I recieved a letter from the state of Arizona that in fact due to budget cuts my son's services will discontinue as of March 13. I have done a lot of research, I will not take this lying down, my son has rights under the law, he is legally disabled and recieves SSI. This is in violation of IDEA part c, supposedly services cannot be discontinued unless the child does not have a need, or the parents withdraw them, it the procedural safeguards I have recieved state nothing about services being subject to budget cuts, and this begs the question, where is the funding AZ recieved from the federal government for our children?

I have been recieving a ton of info on email that I have been passing back and forth, honestly it is a lot of information to take in and track who has what and where some things that I have sent have wound up, so I created this blog as a place to consolidate all of this information in a more organized format to help parents and providers understand what is going on and quickly find what they are looking for. I hope this helps!

I will provide additional info in subsequent posts.

About My Son

My son was born at 26 weeks (3 months early), weighing 2lbs and 4oz. He was on a ventilator for 6 weeks. He came home with oxygen and is diagnosed with chronic lung disease. He is doing VERY well right now due to this program, and I have no doubt without their therapies and support he would not be doing as well at all. He had problems moving, physical therapy helped us, we did a number of massage and theapies that ultimatley helped him to crawl and walk, I don't think he would have done it without the help. The coordinators helped me bring things to his Dr's attention to get them resolved, like a reflux problem, and a very high palette due to being on the ventilator for so long, these issues would have transitioned into severe feeding problems. He still doesn't walk quite correctly, he tends to walk on the sides of his feet, but it is improving with physical therapy, I don't know what will happen now, it could get worse, and eventually become the problem of the school he winds up attending, costing the state even more money than it would now. He won't allow a toothbrush into his mouth due to having some aversions associated with being on the ventilator which occupational therapy is helping with. Any competent health care professional will tell you correcting any developmental problems in the first three years is much easier and cost effective than waiting, children have a harder time learning to compensate after age 3.