Earlier this year, the Oak Park village board cut funding to a program that provided vision and hearing screenings for all children attending licensed preschools and daycare facilities in Oak Park.

Our daughter was one of the lucky children who was screened during this current school year, before the funding was cut. After twice failing the hearing test, she was referred to an audiologist, who determined that she has moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears. She is now adjusting to wearing hearing aids. Because she passed her hearing test at birth and demonstrates age-appropriate speech, no one was aware that she had any hearing issues prior to this testing: not her parents, not her pediatrician, not her preschool teachers, not even the District 97 speech therapist who observed her during the summer of 2008. Because most pediatricians do not have the ability to test for hearing in their offices, it’s likely our daughter’s situation would not have been discovered until she had a hearing and vision screen in kindergarten, causing her to miss out on many of the social and academic benefits of preschool, and forcing her to play catch-up in kindergarten.

We all know that money is tight, and the Oak Park village board is trying to cut costs. But screening children for both hearing and vision through the village program seems to be cost-effective. The total cost of the program was around $14,000, and $5,000 of that came from a state grant. With over 3,300 tests performed, this worked out to less than $3 of village funds per test. Cutting the program was irresponsible, both fiscally and for the health of our children.

Please encourage the members of the Oak Park village board to reinstate the hearing and vision screenings for our preschool-aged children. With the village board election fast approaching, this is an important issue that must be addressed.

Michael and Andrea Lofgren
Oak Park

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