“Babies Can’t Wait” Program of Georgia

Shortly after Fiona was diagnosed with profound hearing loss, the audiologist told us she was required by law to report Fiona’s status to the state of Georgia. That was fine with us, but her tone almost made me feel like we had done something wrong. It was a stern, almost apologetic “sorry they’re making me do this” sort of tone.

This had me wondering, was this really a problem they’ve had with other parents? Do some people RESIST the process? Maybe out of embarrassment or a way to keep their public record clean? I’m not sure I’ll ever know.

Regardless, that report kicked off a process that ultimately resulted in a representative from the Babies Can’t Wait program visiting us at our house this afternoon. Babies Can’t Wait is the Georgia implementation of the Federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). There are likely many reading this who understand the IDEA act much better then myself, but my takeaway from the meeting was this was a state run agency that provides a social safety net to educate children with disabilities regardless of income level.

The rep was very nice and mentioned they had several services available, including early testing, auditory-speech training, sign language education, placement in schools and more. The cost of their programs in many cases is completely free, and in others is tiered heavily based on your income level. (The irony of which will not be lost on my friends who know what its like to quit your job to work for an early stage tech startup).

Eliza and I do not yet know the quality or extent of these programs, but I do think its fantastic that programs are available to provide opportunities to children of all income brackets. Every child deserves a chance at a fulfilling life and it makes me proud that such opportunities exist.

Now I know this could easily degenerate into a political debate of the pros and cons of state run programs, but I ask you resist the urge to do that in this forum. We are not choosing sides, making recommendations, nor trying to change people’s minds one way or another. We simply want to determine what’s the best option for our daughter.

Towards this end, on Wednesday we visit the Auditory Verbal Center which is a highly recommended private group, so we are really curious to compare the pros and cons to make an informed choice.

Does anyone have experience or knowledge about the Babies Can’t Wait Program? If so, we’d love to learn more. Feel free to comment or email us direct.

Fiona and Mom

Fiona and Mom – June 15, 2013

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6 thoughts on ““Babies Can’t Wait” Program of Georgia

  1. Kristi

    I sent Eliza a message but wanted to comment here too. We have had a lot of experience with Babies Can’t Wait in Georgia. It is a great program and I highly recommend giving them a try. We got all of Aaron’s therapies through BCW from the time he was six weeks old until we moved out of state right before he turned two. We had great therapists, an amazing coordinator that helped us with so much more than just therapy (there are a lot of programs out there that you probably have never heard of that they can help you find and take advantage of) and they will come to your house! That may not sound like a big deal right now but it will make a difference as Fiona gets older. I know it can be hard to get past the fact that it seems like “government assistance” but it’s a great program that is designed to help kids with special needs from any background and income level. It’s not just for kids from low income families and they aren’t the only ones that take advantage of it. I have a ton more information about it, so please feel free to ask any questions you might have. I don’t know why the health care professionals that tell you about the program do it in a apologetic way. We had the same experience so you aren’t alone. I think it may just be because they are afraid you will take it the wrong way, like you are being “reported” to an agency. It would help if they explained it but I guess they (like most people) probably don’t know enough about it, except that they have to refer you. It’s a whole new world and there are certainly frustrations and red tape, but overall I think it’s really great and worth a shot.

    1. Mark Isham Post author

      Kristi this is very helpful, thank you. I was hoping someone had experience and you make some valid points, especially about the house calls! We’ll definitely keep that in mind! Thank you again! (and i’m sure we’ll have some more questions for you down the road).

      1. Kristi

        There is a lot to learn and it’s way too much for anyone to absorb at once – especially at this early stage in the game for you guys. I’m not going anywhere though, so feel free to ask any questions whenever they come up! I agree with Diana too. So much depends on the people that you interact with. We were lucky enough to have great therapists and coordinators with the BCW program, but I’m sure there are some duds there just like there are everywhere. Just remember, if you ever aren’t happy with a therapist, audiologist, doctor, etc. you have every right to ask for or find a new one. It can be a frustrating (and at times intimidating) prospect, but you will learn to become Fiona’s advocate and make sure that she gets the best out of everyone. I am not a confrontational person but I have learned to stand up for my son and won’t back down when I disagree with something that a doctor, therapist or someone with the school system tells me. One thing that I thought was great about BCW was that they told us up front, if we weren’t happy with the therapist we got, all we had to do was tell the coordinator and they would find someone else. So you don’t have to feel like you are stuck with whoever they randomly assign to you. Good luck with the AVC appointment, I can’t wait to hear about it!

  2. Diana

    The fact that Georgia has such a program is really wonderful. We’ve had both good and bad experiences with these kinds of programs. When Jonah was born he was in NICU and they send someone out a week or so after we went home from the hospital and it felt really invasive. Like they were checking up on us to make sure we were adequate parents. When he was first diagnosed with Food Allergies we had no resources. No agency, no support group, nothing. Just a whacked out allergist (which we later ditched). So we muddled through using books and online message boards. When he was diagnosed with Asthma what a difference!!! An agency lady came over and in a couple of sessions she walked us through triggers, what to keep an eye on, proper use and care of the inhalers etc. It was so nice to have someone to call in the very beginning to say ‘I don’t know…..’. I still feel like if I had a question I could call her.

    so my takeaway is it really depends on the attitude of the people you are dealing with. Our experiences have been more positive than negative dealing with the medical providers/schools etc. That isn’t to say it can’t be ridiculously frustrating sometimes! Our school experiences leave something to be desired.

    Hopefully this Babies Can’t Wait Program will be able to all the available resources in your area. And we all know Knowledge is Power.

    1. Mark Isham Post author

      Thanks Diana, someday you’ll need to tell more more about the whacked out allergist. Sounds like some interesting stories there 🙂

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