Program serving young, blind children hit hard by state budget cuts

A program that helps educate blind preschoolers throughout Kentucky has had its state funding drastically cut. Louisville-based Visually Impaired Preschool Services, also known as VIPS, will only receive $10,000 from the state this year, compared to $80,000 three years ago, The Courier-Journal‘s Deborah Yetter reports. (C-J photo by Michael Hayman)
The program provides free, at-home education for children who are considered legally blind until they turn 4. “The impact is that we won’t be able to serve them as often,” said Diane Nelson, the program’s executive director. “It’s so sad.”
While the cut will not affect VIPS’ preschool in Louisville, it will affect parents and children in more rural parts of the state because fewer specially trained teachers will be sent from Louisville and Lexington to help them. The program serves about 300 children in Kentucky and southern Indiana. Last year, about 50 of those children were outside Louisville and Lexington. This year, only 22 rural children are being helped. “We don’t have the money to go out and find these kids,” Nelson said.
The funding reduction is the latest in a series of cutbacks that have affected Kentucky public health in the past several years. All told, public health funding has been cut $12 million in recent years. (Read more)
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