Tobosa Developmental Services encouraged parents and community members to join the organization’s effort to save its Early Intervention Program, Monday at the Roswell Public Library.
For more than 30 years, Tobosa has received funding and positive reviews from the state. However, the non-profit recently received a letter from the Developmental Disabilities Supports Division that granted funding for three other programs, but not the Early Intervention Program.
The program provides services such as speech, physical and occupational therapies to children from birth to age 3. On average, more than 450 families a year utilize the program. Without funding, Executive Director Joe Madrid said Tobosa would lose $1.3 million from its budget and the organization would have to stop its early intervention services by June 30.
Early Intervention Program staff members stood together during the meeting, most of them overcome with emotion.
“It’s been a really hard week for my staff and I,” Early Childhood Director Tami Orona said tearfully. “It’s not just a job to us; all of us here work from the heart.”
Due to the nature of the work, she said consistency is vital for the children involved and an interruption of services would have a devastating impact.
Many parents and caretakers in attendance testified on behalf of the organization’s work. Several dissolved into sobs as they recalled how the program helped their children achieve what they thought impossible.
Yolanda Pinon shared how the program helped her sons, who were born with delays in speech and motor skills, to become the accomplished teens they are today.
“I know without a doubt that Los Pasitos and the interventions they received changed the course of their lives,” she said. “By cutting this program, how many children are out there who will not reach their full potential?”
Parents also spoke of how staff members entered their homes as strangers and left as family. Kenneth Vaughn said his two-year-old daughter Lillian has come to expect visits from staff members — and even knows when they’re running late.
“They’re like family to us,” he said. “What they do for this community, to take that away would be devastating for our daughter.”
Ernest and Rita Montoya have fostered more than 100 children, many of whom have benefited from the Early Intervention Program.
Over the years, they have taken in drug affected children, as well as those with learning disabilities and, Ernest said, the program has “opened a whole new door for children.”
“It would be a terrible mistake for them to eliminate a program such as this,” he said.
Lawmakers such as Tim Jennings, Reps. Candy Spence Ezzell and Bob Wooley and Chaves County Commissioner Kim Chesser also attended the meeting. Jennings and others echoed Madrid, telling parents to get involved and to even contact the governor’s office.
Tobosa has less than 15 days to protest the decision and plans to meet with an attorney.