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Wake Children With Developmental Disabilities Waiting For Help

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Some children with special needs in Wake County are not getting the help they are entitled to receive.

According to federal law, children who struggle with problems like autism and cerebral palsy are entitled to early childhood programs.

A 45-day wait is the limit for approved families, but at least 160 families in Wake County are told they may have to wait three to six months.

"They're missing the opportunity of crucial time to get that service delivered," parent advocate Karen Nolfo said.

During the 2001-02 legislative session, lawmakers restructured the services to make the system more effecient. The change took place over the summer. However, the transition in the more metropolitan places like Raleigh have created a backlog.

Tim Pritchard, who is in charge of the Children's Developmental Services Agency that now handles the issue, said his office had to take on extra work without extra help because a decision was made to phase in more employees instead of hiring them all at once.

"We are going to do something to shorten the wait to get these kids the services," he said.

Pritchard said phasing in employees was a mistake and he is hiring as fast as he can. The county is trying to find alternatives for parents who are waiting.


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