Parents worry over loss of early intervention offices

Many parents in New Brunswick are wondering if they'll still have access to early intervention services for their children after finding out the province is closing ten of its 17 intervention offices.

Closing 10 of 17 offices will streamline operations, says provincial official

Many parents of special needs children in New Brunswick are wondering if they'll still have access to early intervention services after finding out the province is closing 10 of its 17 intervention offices.

Early intervention programs offer home-based support and education for parents whose children are at risk of developmental delays.

When Sarah Smith-Stewart's daughter was five months old, she was having 100 seizures a day. But after brain surgery and lots of support, she is now thriving.

Smith-Stewart credits her early intervention coach with her now five-year-old daughter's success.

An official for Education Minister Jody Carr said the decision to close offices will streamline services. (CBC)

"She is in kindergarten, an average kid. She reads, she writes on her own. We honestly did not know when she was little if she would even be able to attend kindergarten," said Smith-Stewart.

Smith-Stewart said she was livid when she learned the service office in Fredericton is closing and believes the government owes parents an explanation as to what the changes will mean for services.

Smith-Stewart said she understands the province needs to cut costs, but early intervention isn't the place to do it.

"If we're looking at a short-term gain right now by cutting these programs, we're looking at long-term financial expenditures, there's just no way around it," said Smith-Stewart.

"These children that aren't getting help now, they might need three specialists in the future … four years down the road it could mean so much more financially."

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Jody Carr was not available for an interview on Friday.

But a provincial official said in an email that closing many of the centres will streamline operations.

As well, the official said children with special needs in New Brunswick will continue to receive at least the same level of service.