Education – Policy Brief on Potential Rescission of School Discipline Guidance Issued

The Leadership Conference Education Fund (LCEF) released a policy brief regarding the potential rescission of guidance from the Education Department and Department of Justice clarifying the responsibility of public schools to address disproportionality in school discipline. The brief explains that students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students are disproportionately subject to suspension and expulsion. The document states that rescission of the guidance would impede the progress being made on reducing this disproportionality.

Tax – Arizona, Wyoming Open Qualified ABLE Programs

Arizona and Wyoming recently opened new ABLE programs, bringing the total number of jurisdictions with ABLE programs to 35. These programs are currently open only to state residents. They have five investment options. The accounts have a $3.50 monthly fee and asset-based fees ranging from 0.19% to 0.34% for investment options. The minimum initial deposit is $50. More information about state implementation of the ABLE Act can be found here. General information about ABLE programs can be found in the National Policy Matters: ABLE Accounts for People with Disabilities here.

Education/Rights – Bills Introduced to Provide Protections from Campus Sexual Assault for Students with Disabilities

Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced S. 2530, the Safe Equitable Campus Resources and Education (SECuRE) Act on March 9. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced companion legislation (H.R. 5241) in the House of Representatives. The SECuRE Act ensures the needs of students with disabilities will be taken into account in campus planning and response efforts to sexual assault on campus, and that resources provided to the campus community are accessible to everyone. Specifically, the SECuRE Act would improve prevention programs, reporting systems, personnel training, and disciplinary proceedings. A recent report from the National Council on Disability, “Not on the Radar: Sexual Assault of College Students with Disabilities,” found that the needs of these students are often not addressed under existing policies. The Arc supports this legislation.

Education – School Voucher Bill for Military Families Introduced in House and Senate

On March 7, Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) and Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act (H.R.5199/S.2517). These bills would use a portion of Federal Impact Aid payments to create “Military Education Savings Accounts” that parents serving in the military could use for private school or other education expenses for their children. Federal Impact Aid is funding for school districts that have a large amount of non-taxable federal property (such as military bases and tribal lands) in order to make up for lost tax revenue. The Arc opposes these bills because they redirect money from public schools to private schools that are not required to follow the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Direct Support Professionals – PCPID Releases Report on DSP Workforce Crisis

The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID) recently released a report titled America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis: Effects on People with Intellectual Disabilities, Families, Communities and the U.S. Economy. The report notes that direct support professionals (DSPs) provide services that allow people with intellectual disability to live in their communities and enable family members to work. Additionally, the report indicates that the average hourly DSP wage is $10.72, most DSPs work two or three jobs, and the average annual turnover rate is 45%. For more information, see The Arc’s statement on the report. A plain-language version of the report can be found here.

Education – NCD Releases Five-Part Report Series on IDEA Implementation

The National Council on Disability (NCD) released a five-part report series on implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The last major report on IDEA Implementation from NCD was released in 2002, prior to the 2004 reauthorization. The five parts of the series are:

NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.

Criminal Justice – The Arc to Host Facebook Live with NPR’s Joe Schapiro

On March 9th at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, The Arc will be hosting a Facebook Live with Joe Shapiro, the reporter behind NPR’s powerful series on sexual assault and disability. Joe will be joined by Leigh Ann Davis, Director of Criminal Justice Initiatives for The Arc, for a conversation about this serious problem facing individuals with disabilities. There will be time for questions and answers during this Facebook Live event. Tune in and please share with your networks. Find the event on The Arc’s Facebook page.

Social Security – House Committee to Hold Hearing on SSA Leadership

On March 7 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a hearing on “Lacking a Leader: Challenges Facing the SSA after over 5 Years of Acting Commissioners.” As stated in the Committee’s announcement “The hearing will focus on the need for a Senate-confirmed Commissioner to lead the Social Security Administration (SSA), the challenges and limitations faced by the SSA when it is led by an Acting Commissioner, and the legal framework that governs a vacancy at the SSA.” Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.

Health – Senate Approves Alex Azar as HHS Secretary

On January 24, the Senate approved the nomination of Alex Azar to be Secretary of Health and Human Services by a vote of 55-43. HHS is the cabinet level department that administers most federal health and social service programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act programs, Developmental Disabilities Act programs, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Additionally, it oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health.

Family Support – President Trump Signs RAISE Family Caregivers Act

President Trump signed the Recognize, Assist, Include, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act into law on January 22 (P.L. 115-119). The Arc supported this bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) that calls for the development of a strategy to support the nation’s more than 40 million caregivers. The RAISE Family Caregivers Act will bring together stakeholders from both the public and private sector to create an advisory body. This advisory body will then develop recommendations for how government, communities, providers, employers, and others can better recognize and support family caregivers. Read The Arc’s statement on passage of the RAISE Family Caregivers Act here.