House Approves Coronavirus Relief Bill

The House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R.6201). The bill is now being considered in the Senate. The bill includes a 6.2% federal medical assistance percentage increase to support Medicaid funding to the states. There are some provisions that will provide limited paid sick leave for some workers. The Arc staff is working to expand the paid leave provisions and to ensure that other packages include the needs of people with disabilities and the direct professional workforce. Take action today! Read The Arc’s statement here.

Family Support: House Approves Reauthorization of Older Americans Act With Senate Amendments

On March 11, the House passed the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 (H.R.4334) with Senate amendments. This bill reauthorizes the Older Americans Act, including the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). The NFCSP provides information to caregivers about available services, assistance in accessing services, individual counseling, support groups, caregiver training, respite care, and supplemental services. This bill removes a 10% cap on funding for services for “older relative caregivers,” a term that includes family caregivers of adults with disabilities ages 18-59. The measure now awaits the President’s signature. The Arc supports this legislation.

Family Support/Employment: House Committee Holds Hearing on Paid Sick Leave Legislation

On March 11, the House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing on the Healthy Families Act (H.R.1784). This bill provides for paid and unpaid sick leave for employees to meet their own medical needs and those of their families. It requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide their employees with at least one hour of earned paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 56 hours of paid sick leave a year. Visit the Committee website for more information or to view archived video of the hearing. The Arc supports this legislation.

Housing: Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Comments Due Today

On January 14, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a proposed rule that erodes the protections of the Fair Housing Act. The proposed rule is a big step back from efforts to fight housing discrimination and segregation in the U.S. The proposed rule has many harmful changes and removes language requiring that steps to affirmatively further fair housing include expanding opportunities for people with disabilities to live in “the most integrated setting appropriate to the individual’s needs.” A comment template can be found here. Submit comments here by March 16. Learn more with this short explainer and at www.fightforhousingjustice.org/affh.

Education: Education Department Releases Guidance Documents Relating to COVID-19 Outbreak

On March 12, the Department of Education (ED) released three guidance documents regarding responses to COVID-19: one relating to flexibility in accountability standards under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, another relating to student privacy protection under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and a third relating to services for students with disabilities. The Department of Education announced in its guidance that it will consider targeted waivers of the assessment requirements, the 95% assessment participation rate requirement, and chronic absenteeism benchmarks. The FERPA guidance details how schools and colleges should handle disclosure of COVID-19 infections under the “health and safety emergency” exception. The final document details the responsibilities of school districts, state early intervention lead agencies, and early intervention providers during a COVID-19 outbreak. The Arc is pleased that the Department of Education has provided much-needed guidance to stakeholders. However, The Arc believes the guidance leaves many questions unanswered. Specifically, it does not address whether school districts must provide free and appropriate public education for students with significant disabilities when operating through online/distance learning, how students will receive support typically provided by special education teachers or paraprofessionals, or under what conditions compensatory education must be provided.

Education: ED Reports Doubling of Students Identified with Autism

New data from the Department of Education indicate that the percentage of students with disabilities identified with autism has increased from 4.97% in 2008 to 10.51% in 2018. Students with autism were less likely to drop out than students with disabilities overall, but more likely to receive a certificate of completion. Students with autism were also less likely than students with disabilities overall to be included in the regular class 80% or more of the day and more likely to be included in the regular class less than 40% of the day. Girls, black or African American students, and Hispanic/Latino students were less likely to be identified with autism when compared to all students with disabilities.

Rights: FDA Issues Long Awaited Final Rule Banning Electric Shock Devices

On March 6, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a final rule prohibiting electrical stimulation devices (ESDs). These devices have inflicted painful abuse on residents of the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts for decades. The rule takes effect on April 6, and all individuals currently subject to the devices must be transitioned off by September 2. Read The Arc’s statement.

Direct Support Professionals: Bipartisan Legislation Creating Separate Code for DPSs Introduced in the House and Senate

Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Sean Maloney (D-NY), John Katko (R-NY), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act (S.3369/H.R.6045). This bill directs the Office of Management and Budget to revise the Standard Occupational Classification system to create a separate code for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). A separate code will allow states and the federal government to collect more accurate data to address turnover and shortages. The Arc Supports this legislation.

Tell Congress to Recognize the Role of Direct Support Professionals!

Family Support: Senate Approves Reauthorization of Older Americans Act

On March 6, the Senate passed the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 (H.R.4334). This bill reauthorizes the Older Americans Act, including the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). The NFCSP provides information to caregivers about available services, assistance in accessing services, individual counseling, support groups, caregiver training, respite care, and supplemental services. This bill removes a 10% cap on funding for services for “older relative caregivers,” a term that includes family caregivers of adults with disabilities ages 18-59. The Arc supports this legislation.

Family Support/Employment: House Committee to Hold Hearing on Paid Sick Leave Legislation

On March 11, the House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections will hold a hearing on the Healthy Families Act (H.R.1784). This bill provides for paid and unpaid sick leave for employees to meet their own medical needs and those of their families. It requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide their employees with at least one hour of earned paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 56 hours of paid sick leave a year.

Visit the Committee website for more information or to view live video of the hearing.