Cobo-Lewis, Rooks-Ellis quoted in BDN report on how state is treating children with disabilities

University of Maine’s Alan Cobo-Lewis and Deborah Rooks-Ellis spoke with the Bangor Daily News for a report on how Maine is treating children with disabilities. A continual state of political flux for more than a decade has reduced the state’s Child Development Services’ (CDS) budget and caused children to go without services to which they’re entitled under federal law, according to the article. Cobo-Lewis, director of the Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies at UMaine and an associate professor of psychology, said a change in structure won’t automatically resolve budget challenges and improve services. “I think the problem is that there’s been under-appropriation for a number of years,” he said. “If you keep it where it is without the money, I don’t think it’s going to get any better. And if you move it to K–12 without the money, I don’t think it’s going to get any better there, either.” Maine’s CDS launched Early Start Maine three years ago, based on Early Start Denver, the article states. It’s served more than 150 infants and toddlers with autism in that time, including more than 50 who were receiving the services earlier this fall, said Deborah Rooks-Ellis, director of the Maine Autism Institute for Education Research at UMaine, which trains the educational technicians who work with children. “For autism especially, if they don’t have that early interaction and those opportunities to build communication and social reciprocity and a focus on relationships, they really will be that much more delayed,” said Rooks-Ellis, who also is an assistant professor of special education.