WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) introduced the Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill to restore full funding for educational and early-intervention services for children with disabilities. U.S. Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) introduced the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The need for early intervention and pre-school special education services has only increased over the past several decades. However, federal investments have not kept pace with the number of students requiring these services. Programs funded through Part B, Section 619 and Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act – which assist states with early intervention services for children with disabilities ages 3-5 and 0-3, respectively – are woefully underfunded, despite high demand for the services these programs provide. The Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act would assist states in providing this critical support by bringing funding for these programs back to where it belongs.
“Early childhood interventions are critical for young learners with disabilities, but those services were dramatically cut back while schools were remote. This legislation would increase early childhood funding to the levels required by the IDEA Act and ensure our youngest students get the support they deserve and need to get back on track. For far too long, Congress has failed to meet its obligation to fully fund IDEA. I’ll keep pushing until every kid has access to a quality education,” said Murphy.
“For children who experience disabilities, early intervention is critical to give them the tools and resources that they need to succeed as they grow,” said Hassan. “Yet, the current funding does not meet the demand from families across the country who are struggling to access these resources. Closing this funding gap is about making sure that all infants and toddlers are fully included and thrive.”
The complete list of supporting organizations includes: All4Ed, American Federation of Teachers, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association, American Psychological Association, American Speech-Language Hearing Association, Assistive Technology Industry Association, Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, Association of California School Administrators, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Autism Society of America, Autism Speaks, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, California School Boards Association, Center for Law and Social Public Policy, Center for Learner Equity, Child Care Law Center, Coalition for Adequate Funding for Special Education, CommunicationFIRST, Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf, Council for Exceptional Children, Council for Learning Disabilities, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Cure SMA, Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, Division for Learning Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children (DLD), Early Edge California, Early On Michigan Foundation, Easterseals, Educare Learning Network, First Five CA, First Five LA, First Five Years Fund, Higher Education Consortium of Special Education (HECSE), IDEA Infant Toddler Coordinators Association, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Los Angeles Unified School District, Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), Michigan Division for Early Childhood, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Disability Rights Network, National Head Start Association, National Organization for Women (NOW), National Parent Teacher Association, National PLACE, National Women’s Law Center, Nemours Children’s Health, Parent to Parent of Georgia, Parents as Teachers, RespectAbility, San Diego Unified School District, Start Early, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, The Advocacy Institute, The Arc of the United States, The Early Care and Education Consortium, The National Down Syndrome Congress, The Superintendents Association (AASA), Unite-LA, ZERO TO THREE.
In November, Murphy joined U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and U.S. Representative Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) to reintroduce bipartisan, bicameral legislation to fully fund IDEA. The IDEA Full Funding Act would require regular increases in IDEA spending to finally meet our commitment to America’s children and schools. Murphy also urged Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Vice Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) to maintain the $2.6 billion increase in IDEA funding that has been included in both the House and Senate appropriation bills for fiscal year 2022, and aligns with President Biden’s budget request. Thanks to a push by Murphy, Van Hollen, and Hassan, the American Rescue Plan included billions in dedicated funding to support students with disabilities.
This press release was made possible by: