Little Points of Light in need of funds

RANGELY I Following the kickoff to its Little Points of Light campaign last month, Horizons Specialized Services of Northwest Colorado continues to accept funds for Rio Blanco County Early Intervention and Family Support Services.
Approximately 100 donors in Horizons’ service area, on the Front Range and outside Colorado have donated to the annual campaign, an appeal letter mailing that describes the story of a child with developmental delays or disabilities who has benefited from Horizons services.
This year’s Little Points of Light child, 2-year-old Zariah Smith, was born prematurely at 29 weeks and weighed 2 pounds, 11 ounces. Her family worked with a Horizons occupational therapist and received assistance to help cover “astronomical expenses” accumulated when Zariah required two heart surgeries and dozens of appointments with Denver-based specialists to survive.
“These programs have been an integral and reliable part of my family’s life for the last two years,” mother Dawn Smith wrote in the letter. “We couldn’t have done it alone and, with Horizons, we don’t have to.”
Horizons currently works with 47 children in Early Intervention and 83 families in Family Support Services in its service area of Rio Blanco, Moffat, Grand, Routt and Jackson counties. Almost 2,000 residences and businesses in all counties but Routt, which has a mill levy that prohibits fundraising, received the appeal letter.
Money raised via the campaign directly funds programs in the counties in which donors give. Early intervention services include developmental screenings and family-oriented speech, physical and occupational therapy that targets developmental delays.
Among other services it also provides to adults with disabilities, Horizons’ Family Support Services helps families cover co-pays and deductibles for specialist care and teaches parents how to work with children to meet developmental milestones.
Since Horizons launched the Little Points of Light campaign last month, the appeal letters have garnered more than $21,000.
The money raised so far gives Horizons’ Family Support Council a baseline to work from. Its job is to assess incoming funding each year, then allocate specific amounts to families as reimbursement toward costs associated with their child’s developmental delays or disabilities.
Horizons grants and publications coordinator Deirdre Pepin said, however, that waning financial funding from the state, coupled with Horizons’ commitment to serve all children who meet eligibility criteria regardless of family income, means additional support is always welcomed.
“The state does not provide enough funding to cover the needs of our families; we rely on grants, donations and fundraisers to help meet these needs,” Pepin said. “In general, most families request (the allocated) amount for reimbursements but spend much more in the care for their child.”
Average medical costs for pre-term babies in their first year of life can be up to 10 times the amount it costs to support full-term babies in their first year — almost $50,000 compared with $4,551, the appeal letter stated. Of those children born prematurely, one in three will need special school services sometime during their school years.
When it comes to children, Pepin believes the return is always greater than the investment. With 85 percent of children’s brain development occurring before they turn three and the vast majority of children’s overall development happening before their fifth birthday, Horizons banks on early intervention and family support services helping when they’re most needed.
“Children who need and receive early intervention services are more likely to graduate from high school, hold jobs and live independently,” Pepin said. “Every dollar spent in Early Intervention saves $7 in the need for future services.
“In other words, if developmental delays go unidentified, each child, family and community will need to address the issue later in life in a more complex way.”
There is no end date for the Little Points of Light campaign. To support Horizons locally, donors can visit www.horizonsnwc.org or mail a check to Rio Blanco County’s Horizons satellite office at P.O. Box 2114, Meeker 81641.