Bill to dissolve Child Development Services worries parents of special-needs children

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AUGUSTA, Maine. (WABI) A bill to wipe out the Child Development Services, or CDS, system in Maine has some parents of special-needs children worried.

Starting in July, the school district in which the child lives might become responsible for providing special education for kids ages 3-5.

The bill, which is expected to have a two-year transition period, was put forth by the Department of Education.

Supporters say children with disabilities are best served by their local communities.

But some parents like Tiffany McKenna, whose son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, say their children wouldn't be as successful without CDS help.

"Because of that testing, we were able to get a lot of services. I had no idea what I was getting into. They educated me and my family about what the different schools were, what the different services were, and because of all those services he is a different boy today than he would have been," said McKenna.

"We're concerned that there isn't a great plan to cover 3-5 year olds and kind of dumps them into a school system that's already overburdened and under-budgeted," said fellow parent Lindsay Humphries, whose 5-year-old son Arlo takes advantage of CDS services.

"Maine is the only state that has a system like CDS, which is called an educational intermediary. So it's a quasi-governmental agency, it's not quite in and it's not quite out of underneath the auspices of the Department of Education, so they're looking to bring it in under the fold," said Sen. Brian Langley, (R) Hancock, the bill's sponsor.

The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee will vote on whether or not to send the bill to the full legislature this week.