Target: Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Goal: Call for reinstatement of funding for Childhaven, a much needed therapeutic program for children with special needs.
All children deserve access to care. Some children need a little extra assistance from their child care providers. The average day care staff member is not trained to assist children affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or who might have other health problems due to their mother’s use of drugs or alcohol while pregnant.
Since 1977, Childhaven, a Washington State child care center, has been striving to provide assistance to children exactly like this. 160 of the 179 children who currently attend Childhaven have been diagnosed by licensed mental-health counselors or social workers with a condition caused by neglect and/or abuse.
For almost three decades Childhaven has received nearly $4 million a year in government assistance, split between direct assistance and Medicaid. Now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services want to take all of that assistance away, leaving Childhaven in dire financial straits.
Government assistance provides half of Childhaven’s budget. While they work hard to raise independent funds, there is no way they will be able to make up the $4 million difference without drastic restructuring of their program. But closing even a single branch of Childhaven would be a disaster for the children who use this service, and who have been diagnosed by professionals as needing exactly the kind of day care Childhaven provides.
Due to the current economic situation, it is important to pay attention to the federal budget, and we should applaud when government officials try to reduce their spending. But cutting a long-running, much-needed program that provides therapeutic day care to children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other conditions is not the way to do it. These children are already at-risk. Urge federal Medicaid officials to reinstate the funding for Childhaven immediately.
Dear Marilyn Tavenner,
Everyone understands that it is important to tighten the budget. But your decision to stop Childhaven from receiving $4 million a year is not the way to do it. Childhaven is not your typical day care. For almost thirty years they have specialized in helping children who have psychological conditions because of abuse and/or neglect.
Almost 200 children rely on Childhaven to provide day care that goes a step beyond. Pulling government assistance from this program means that some of these children might not be able to continue to receive this vital service. These children do not have any other options. Established, safe, and secure child care that specializes in therapeutic methods for children with conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is rare.
Furthermore, taking away funding to one of the few programs that specialize in assistance to at-risk children sets a dangerous precedent. If we don’t value the mental health of our children, what, as a country, is our priority? At the very least, we urge you to give Childhaven a chance. Work with Childhaven to alter their program if it does not precisely fit the requirements to receive this crucial financial assistance. Give them a realistic timeline and assistance to affect these alterations.
We urge you to rethink pulling the funding completely. Dozens of children directly rely on Childhaven for assistance and day care that they will not find anywhere else. Help Childhaven keep operating, so it can help these children and be a model for other at-risk child care centers nationwide. Reinstate the federal funding of this program immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Koivth on Wikimedia