WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), both members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, along with Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) reintroduced legislation to better support students with disabilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act would provide $11 billion for state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), $900 million for early childhood education programs, $300 million for personnel development, $55 million under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, and requires recipients of funds to report to Congress how this money is spent.
“Many students with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted by educational disruptions resulting from this pandemic,” said Senator Hassan. “This legislation will provide much-needed funding to help ensure that students with disabilities continue to receive the same educational opportunities as their peers, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. I will continue working with my colleagues to see to it that this funding is included in the next COVID-19 relief package.”
"The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act cemented a basic right into law: that all students—no matter their disability—receive the support and resources they deserve. But for too long, we have failed to live up that promise. That's never been more true than during this pandemic, as millions of students with disabilities have faced unique challenges during remote learning and will need additional support to get back on track as schools reopen," said Senator Murphy. "That's why I'm teaming up with Senators Hassan and Van Hollen to send schools an additional $11 billion to support students with disabilities. This is an urgent priority, and I hope to see this funding included in the next COVID relief bill."
“For too long, Congress has failed to uphold its end of the deal in providing full funding to ensure a quality education for students with disabilities. COVID-19 has exacerbated school funding shortages across the country, further widening this gap. That’s why Congress must act now on this legislation to address these immediate needs in response to the COVID-19 emergency, and provide long-term full-funding for IDEA through the Keep our PACT Act. We must quickly work to get this done,” said Senator Van Hollen.
Senator Hassan is working to support individuals who experience disabilities in the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, and has previously cosponsored legislation to fully fund the IDEA. Additionally, last year, Senators Hassan and Murphy published an op-ed with 74million on the importance of increasing funding for children with disabilities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Hassan also introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) last March to address the critical need for more Direct Support Professionals in the workforce, who provide vital support to individuals who experience disabilities.