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Washington's Early-Intervention Program Shifts State Agencies

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Washington state has transferred its early-intervention program for infants and toddlers with disabilities from the social services agency to the early-education department, in a move that recognizes that such interventions help prepare children for a seamless and successful school experience.

As of this month, Washington's Early Support for Infants and Toddlers program falls under the Department of Early Learning instead of the Department of Social and Health Services. The program offers children from birth to age 3 with disabilities services including specialized instruction, speech therapy, occupational therapy, or physical therapy.

"I created the Department of Early Learning in 2006 to bring greater focus and better service to our state's youngest learners," Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement. "Bringing this program into DEL moves us that much closer to having a world-class early-learning system that supports all children and families in Washington."

The transfer was proposed in a Senate bill sponsored by state Sen. Randy Gordon.

"This will help the state refocus its educational energies on providing thousands of children with disabilities with top-quality early-learning opportunities," Gordon said in a statement when the bill passed the legislature March 9. "My bill brings all early-learning programs under one roof. It's a good piece of legislation that has strong support among parents, service providers, and educators."

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