Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) introduced legislation to increase funding for children with disabilities in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act appropriates $11 billion for state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), $1.2 billion for early childhood education programs, $55 million under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, and requires recipients of funds to report to Congress how this money is spent. Senator Van Hollen has also introduced the bipartisan, bicameral IDEA Full Funding Act to ensure Congress’s full investment in IDEA and the bicameral Keep our PACT Act to maximize Congressional funding for both IDEA and Title I.
“For too long Congress has not held up its end of the bargain in providing full funding to ensure a quality education for all students with disabilities. COVID-19 has only exacerbated school funding shortages across the country and will make this gap even more severe. We must provide the resources to fully fund IDEA long-term, and we must act now to provide for these immediate needs in response to COVID-19,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our education system—forcing millions of Americans into distance learning. This has been uniquely challenging and harmful for students with disabilities. Now is not the time to backtrack on our commitment to provide a quality education to all; instead, we must strengthen that commitment when students and their families need it most. That’s why we are introducing legislation that provides additional funding to schools to ensure our educators have the resources they need to continue compliance with federal disability education laws despite the circumstances. We must get this legislation included in the next stimulus package Congress considers so children with disabilities have every opportunity to get back and stay on track with their education,” said Senator Murphy.
“Students who experience disabilities have always been among the most vulnerable in our education system, but now with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting our system of learning, the risk of these students falling behind is even greater. This legislation will help support educators who are doing everything they can so that students with disabilities receive the same educational opportunities as their peers, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to include this important legislation in the next COVID-19 relief package,” said Senator Hassan.
In May, Senators Van Hollen, Hassan, and Murphy, along with a number of their colleagues, called for greater support for students who experience disabilities in upcoming COVID-19 response legislation.