Infants and Toddlers Program Announcement
July 25, 2008
Thank you so much for having me here to join you. Today, we’re making progress for Maryland’s future by making progress for our kids (Applause).
On Monday, we celebrated together the signing of legislation to protect athletic opportunities for children with disabilities, and tomorrow we’ll be celebrating the tremendous steps that we’ve made as a society since the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act 18 years ago.
But what I wanted to talk to you about today in our time together is really about what we have always had the freedom to do… what has always been a manifestation of the best of who we are as a people, and that is our freedom to choose to practice the politics of posterity, the politics that says that the choices that we make in the here and now are important in the here and now, but they’re even more important for tomorrow. They’re more important for our children who represent our greatest accomplishments and our greatest achievements as people.
When we were going through those very, very tough choices and with all of the talk of revenues and all of the talk of the $1.8 billion in cuts and reductions in spending, I got a call from a friend of mine named Dan, who has a child with a developmental disability. And he said, “Martin, look, I know that you have a tough job, and I know that, you inherited some big challenges. He said but don’t forget, there’s a lot of families that are struggling, and there’s a lot of families who have been waiting a very long time to be able to enjoy that same, simple, basic human dignity of being able to look in their children’s eyes and know that we as parents and that we as a society are doing our very best so that they can develop to their fullest, in God’s eyes. So, in all of your decisions, please try to do something so that we can make more progress for them.”
And that’s what we’ve done. Today, we are going to build upon the progress of our past, and we are announcing an additional $4.6 million in tough times to invest in our efforts to assist infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays. That increases total funding to $10.4 million (Applause).
That breaks down to a 78 percent increase in investment per child. Taken together, that is a 56 percent increase from where we were in a comparable period under the prior four years.
These dollars will help our infants and toddlers programs in so many ways. It will increase staff so that we can decrease the waiting list for people that want to get their children in the program (Applause).We are now going to be able to meet the needs of 13,000 children in our State, giving them a stronger start to life and providing viable support for them and for their families, and really a much stronger future for all of us who are proud to call Maryland home. We have done a number of important things over these last 18 months. One of those things at the core of our work together has been to restore fiscal responsibility. As an end in and of itself? No. So that we could be one of only seven states to have a AAA bond rating? No. It’s so that we can do things like this today. That’s why we do it. We do it so we can make progress. We do it so that we can virtually triple what we’re investing in school construction throughout our State and in Baltimore County (Applause).
We do it so that we can continue to invest more than any other state in America in the skill and education of our people, which leads to a better work force than most any other state and therefore a better economy than any other state, even in these tough and difficult times of financial downturn.
Working together, we’ve done a number of other important things. We revised our inter-agency transition counsel to help our children move through school seamlessly. We have, working together, increased by $12.3 million funds for the transitioning youth program to ensure greater career and educational opportunities for our kids. And working together also increasing by $2.7 million funds the Community Services Waiting List to support both children and adults with disabilities in our community.
Now, we’re not done. We are by no means done. The march, the journey, the progress of any great people is never done. But, you know what? We are back in the business of making progress… progress that’s based on our sheer belief in the dignity of every individual, our sheer belief in our own responsibility to advance the common good and our understanding that there is a unity to spirit and to matter and that what we do in our own life does matter.
Thank you all very, very much (Applause).