An open letter from Courtney Donovan

Former Parent Co-chair of the State Interagency Coordinating Council

The purpose of this letter is to inform parents that effective July 7, 1997, thirteen members of the State Interagency Coordinating Council ("SICC") received letters from Governor Ridge indicating that their services were no longer necessary and that successors had been named to the Council in their place.

As you may know, the SICC is a body which assists and advises the Governor on topics directly related to Early Intervention for children with special needs. To date, another important function of the Council has been to hold the Departments of Public Welfare and Education accountable for policy and systems change. 

Of those SICC members who were replaced, only two had actually completed their terms. The names of the new appointees were prepared and submitted to the Governor by the Department of Public Welfare.

Parents need to be aware that nine out of the thirteen members of the newly appointed SICC are state employee and that the current configuration does in no way reflect the ethnic, geographic or socioeconomic diversity which had been a vital feature of the former SICC representation.

No explanation has been given for these changes and it is regretful that this event has occurred at a time when the SICC had become, as it is designed, a vibrant, representative body integral to the development and implementation of Early Intervention policy. To date, the membership has worked steadfastly to ensure that all stakeholders were given the forum and the opportunity to explore and express differing points of view. Given that so many of the SICC positions are now filled by State employees, parents should be alarmed that their individual and collective voices have been silenced, particularly at a critical time when proposed systems changes are abundant.

Parents and other stakeholders are encouraged to do the following:

  1. Write a letter stating your concerns to the Governor and Legislators. Outline your concerns, particularly that all of PA is to be represented on the SICC and especially parents from all areas of PA who speak for the children involved;
  2. Contact your Local ICC and request that the Parent Co-Chair draft letters to the Governor and Legislators requesting an explanation and appropriate action.

The SICC should represent and be a forum for all parents of children with disabilities.