A group of East Texans have come together to sign an online petition to keep early child intervention programs in East Texas.
By September 30th, The ECI program at the Andrews Center in Tyler will close its doors, leaving hundreds of children and families across 7 East Texas counties without a place to turn.
Leah Tjoelker credits her daughter's progress to early intervention programs.
“She has come a long way,” said Tkoelker. “Everything she was given really pushed her to be better.”
Her daughter Kasey was born with microcephaly. Doctors didn't know just how much she'd develop. They told Tjoelker they'd have to 'wait and see.'
Kasey's small victories, like pretend play, are big milestones for Tjoelker.
But soon, ECI services that help children like Kasey will be taken away from nearly 300 hundred East Texas families.
Tjoelker said she and many other parents wanted to send a message to the state “We wanted them to know that the service needed to come back or something needed to replace it,” she said. “It couldn't be gone from this area.”
State budget cuts and a contract that won't be renewed at the Andrews center or with any other agency are to blame.
So one Lindale woman took to Change.Org to make a difference. Now hundreds have signed the petition in hopes that it will be delivered to Gov. Greg Abbott and other lawmakers.
Tjoelker signed it, too.
“I wanted the state officials to know that the funds needed to be readily available in this area,” she said.
Without ECI, many families will be left having to look for other, more expensive options -- something not everyone can afford.
As the petition reads… the program is quote, "A lifeline… our children's chance to live normal, healthy, fulfilling lives.”
(© 2016 KYTX)