We have learned that Governor Ted Strickland has proposed a budget cut to the Ohio Department of Health which will result in a 25% cut in funding for the Regional Infant Hearing Program in the state of Ohio. This RIHP is vital to families which include a child who suffers from hearing loss. It provides hearing impaired children and their families with education, un-biased communication options, therapy, and support. These services help these children develop the communication skills needed to attend school and eventually work and live alongside their hearing peers. We must realize that most families in Ohio do not have the personal resources to be able to seek out and employ the small number of persons or organizations trained in providing the deaf or hard-of-hearing with the best education and therapy that they need.
The services we have received so far through the RIHP have been nothing short of extraordinary! They have provided us with parent education, support groups, activities which help foster communication skills with our son, loaner hearing aids, among other services. The RIHP has provided all of these services to us free of charge, despite not having a budgetary increase since 2001. This is an absolute necessity to make sure that our deaf and hard of hearing children do not “fall through the cracks”.
This wonderful program will not be able to continue to provide these necessary services with the 25% budget cut. There is no doubt that the RIHP will be forced to cut vital services as a result of the lack of funding from the State, which will impair and delay the development of our hearing impaired children, and in turn impair our fine State for years to come.
We have contacted Governor Strickland regarding our sincere concern over these proposed budget cuts. If you would like, please contact Governor Strickland and ask him to secure the necessary dollars to prevent the 25% budget cut to RIHP. Early identification and intervention make all of the difference in the life of a child with hearing loss, and the citizens of Ohio need the Regional Infant Hearing Program to be there for them at full strength.