Budget Cuts Impacting Sweetwater County Child Developmental Center

Budget Cuts Impacting Sweetwater County Child Developmental Center

SWEETWATER COUNTY – On June 20, Director, Wyoming Department of Health, Tom Forslund announced the long anticipated reductions in the Behavioral Health Division, Developmental Preschool budget. This time the reduction is roughly $6.7 million, or 9.5 percent.

Also expected to impact this group is a 3.3 percent reduction in Medicaid, which helps pay for services.

Forland said as feared, this last minute reduction in funding cuts deeper and has a more direct impact on service delivery and jobs for our members statewide.  

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There are forty-six developmental preschools across Wyoming. Most are governed by community members who raise funds to finance new buildings and support services. Developmental preschools under IDEA,(Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), are required to follow strict federal and state laws that include regular monitoring by the Department of Health and the Department of Education.

Director Forslund acknowledged in his comments before the JAC Monday that he understood, “significantly less money will not allow you to do what you have done before.”


“This is devastating to early childhood developmental preschools like the Sweetwater County CDC’s in Rock Springs and Green River. Our total cut in Sweetwater County will be about 18.5 percent.” – SCCD Executive Director.Lu Kasper.


This amounts to a $618,000 shortfall in state monies for FY 17.  What would have been a 9.5 percent cut from the latest budget cut is more than doubled due to the fact  that the SCCDC is funded on a per child amount. The SCCDC is currently funded on November 1, 2014 numbers, which means that the next year will be funded on the numbers from 2015.

The count was down in 2015 so that contributes to the additional 9 percent cut.

“The impact that this will have on the SCCDC is still to be determined. So far the SCCDC is looking at the possibility of raising tuition rates for the preschool program and making adjustments to the sliding scale that is offered to low income families. Unavoidable layoffs have had to happen and will continue to happen as we attempt to balance the budget. We will continue to provide all of the services children with disabilities need; we may just need to do this in a more creative way. We are hoping that our community will continue to reach out and support us.” Kasper said.



Developmental preschools are required to find and serve every birth to school age child who has a disability or delay and hire high quality degreed and certified staff, the same as K-12.  

“Developmental preschools are and always have been a good investment for the state. However, the funding formula for developmental preschools, while well intentioned by the legislature, is broken”, said Sue Sharp, Executive Director, Child Development Services of Wyoming, an association with 12 of 14 regional directors as members.

Ninety percent of a child’s brain development happens between birth and five years of age. Screening for disabilities early and getting them into good quality early intervention programs, saves the state money in the long term.  Substantial evidence from long term studies indicate ninety percent of a child’s brain development takes place before the age of five.

Wyoming Developmental Preschools locate, identify and provide therapeutic and educational services to 3,915 eligible children statewide with close to 325 locally. The Part C Program serves 1,297 children birth to three years of age. Over 90 of these children are in Sweetwater County.

Services are required by IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) to be delivered in the home, or the least restrictive environment. Therapists go to the child’s home and work with the family to supplement and enhance the ability of parents to provide a solid foundation for their children. The Part B Program is center based for children three years to school age.

Children come to the local Child Development Center (CDC) where Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, Physical Therapists and Special Education Teachers work on specific areas to better prepare them for kindergarten. Parent satisfaction surveys reported to the legislature annually, show parents are highly satisfied with the programs.