(1) The Blind Babies Program is created within the Division of Blind Services of the Department of Education to provide community-based early-intervention education to children from birth through 5 years of age who are blind or visually impaired, and to their parents, families, and caregivers, through community-based provider organizations. The division shall enlist parents, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, schools, Infant and Toddlers Early Intervention Programs, and therapists to help identify and enroll blind and visually impaired children, as well as their parents, families, and caregivers, in these educational programs.
(2) The program is not an entitlement but shall promote early development with a special emphasis on vision skills to minimize developmental delays. The education shall lay the groundwork for future learning by helping a child progress through normal developmental stages. It shall teach children to discover and make the best use of their skills for future success in school. It shall seek to ensure that visually impaired and blind children enter school as ready to learn as their sighted classmates. The program shall seek to link these children, and their parents, families, and caregivers, to other available services, training, education, and employment programs that could assist these families in the future. This linkage may include referrals to the school districts and the Infants and Toddlers Early Intervention Program for assessments to identify any additional services needed which are not provided by the Blind Babies Program. The division shall develop a formula for eligibility based on financial means and may create a means-based matrix to set a copayment fee for families having sufficient financial means.
(3) The division shall establish outcomes for this program, which shall include, but are not limited to, outcomes relating to the children’s age-appropriate developmental stages; knowledge of assistive technology; proficiency at daily living; ability to participate in pre-school and school; participation in their communities; and ability to be literate. The division shall develop criteria to be used in identifying and contracting with community-based provider organizations. All services offered through the Blind Babies Program shall be provided by community-based provider organizations. The division shall require any community-based provider organization delivering services under this program to develop performance measures related to those services and report to the division on the progress in achieving those measures.