By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — Programs that help young children with autism and developmental delays will have some of their funding restored under the state's new budget deal, sources told DNAinfo Wednesday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo originally planned to cut about $11 million from the state's Early Intervention programs, which serve nearly 75,000 children from birth to age 3.
But after politicians including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver fought the cut, Cuomo and other lawmakers agreed to restore about $5.5 million to the programs, chopping the reduction in half.
"I have long been a leading advocate for the Early Intervention program, which has served as a crucial lifeline for countless New York families," Silver said in a statement to DNAinfo. "This was an extremely difficult budget year and I fought hard to make restorations to this important program."
The budget deal is not yet final, but it has Cuomo's support and is expected to be fully approved by the legislature on Thursday.
Early Intervention offers free services to all young children in New York State who have developmental delays, helping them catch up to their peers.
Early Intervention therapists and advocates in New York City have been sounding alarms about the cuts for weeks. They believe Cuomo's original plan and a proposed restructuring of the Early Intervention program would slash therapists' wages in half, making it impossible for them to earn a living and all but ending Early Intervention in the city.
It was not immediately clear on Wednesday how the partial restoration of the Early Intervention funding would affect therapists' wages, but they would likely still face cuts.
Cuomo's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.