As a mother of three beautiful children and a former school board member, a big part of my goal as a state senator is to ensure that we give the children of California the opportunity to succeed and grow.
I was discouraged and deeply concerned to read a recent news article which showed that a program designed to provide hearing aids to thousands of California children had only helped a small fraction of those it was supposed to. serve.
According to the report, the Hearing Aid Coverage for Children program was launched in 2021 to provide hearing aids to around 2,300 children. Unfortunately, to date, only 39 have received assistance.
According to the CalMatters story, it’s also troubling that the Department of Health Services has already received $6.7 million to run the program. Nearly $7 million and those kids still haven’t received any support.
The article also showed how the state government continues to struggle to deliver services to those who need them most. In addition to the process being “cumbersome,” doctors said “reimbursement times are long, reimbursement rates are low, and some are unaware of the program or choose not to participate, according to parents and caregivers. advocates who lobbied the state to fund children. hearing aids.”
The average cost of children’s hearing aids can range from $3,000 to $10,000.
These hearing aids are life changing. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) has stated that children with hearing loss who do not receive help are “highly likely to lag behind their hearing peers by one to four levels”.
ASHA added that for people with more severe hearing loss, intervention services are even more critical; those who do not receive intervention generally do not progress beyond the third-grade level.
It is unacceptable that after more than a year of operation, 98% of the children identified by this program have not received help.
I joined my fellow California Senate Republicans in writing a letter to the Department of Health Services asking for an explanation. The ministry said it had “implemented key improvements” to the program. My colleagues and I ask the ministry to describe these improvements and explain what it is doing to ensure that the remaining 2,261 children get their hearing aids.
As we pointed out in our letter, what makes this situation even more alarming is the failure of the Ministry of Health Services to explain why so few children have been helped.
Representatives from the Department of Health Services have since contacted Republicans to request a future meeting to discuss the issue. The briefing is welcome, but waiting weeks to hear a response is unacceptable. There is an immediate emergency for 2,261 children.
My colleagues and I will continue our investigation and set opportunity expectations for those running the program to ensure that these children have the same opportunity to learn and grow that the California government has promised them.
In the meantime, if there are any parents eagerly waiting to get their hands on a hearing aid for their child, my staff and I can help you navigate the paperwork. Please contact my district office at 909-335-0271.
Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh represents the 23rd Senate District which includes parts of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.