Disability Policy News In Brief

August 19, 2019

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August 19, 2019   |   Vol. MMXIX, Issue 32
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Congressional Recess All Month

Members of Congress are in their home districts! Think about hosting a community event and inviting your members of Congress or invite them to visit your programs or centers.

Action Steps:

  • Reach out to both the district office and DC office with your request and ask to be connected with a scheduler.
    Learn more about a Recess from Liz and use our plain language guide.

Autism CARES

The Autism CARES Act - which has expanded research and coordination, increased public awareness and surveillance, and expanded interdisciplinary health professional training, including LENDs, to identify and support children and youth with Autism and their families - will sunset (expire) on September 30, 2019, without a successful reauthorization.

HR. 1058, which reauthorizes CARES for five years, passed the House on Wednesday July 24, 2019. S. 427 did not pass the Senate before adjourning for the August Recess. Your voices and advocacy over the next month before they return to Washington is critical!

Action Steps:

  • Sample Tweet: #AutismCARES provides critically needed research, #LEND training, and system improvement for families with #autism and related #disabilities. (Insert Twitter Handle of your Senator), support the passage of this important legislation before it expires Sept 30! @AUCDNews
  • Use the August Recess to your advantage and set up a meeting with your Senators who are not Co-Sponsors to talk about the importance of CARES in your state. Think about hosting a community event and inviting your members of Congress or invite them to visit your programs or centers. If you get a chance to meet with your member or their staff, here are some talking points:
    • CARES is critical to systems serving people with Autism in our state. Summarize and share this resource: CARES Act Summary
    • Educate on what a LEND is and its impact on service delivery and systems for people with Autism. Include a story about a trainee. Summarize and share this resource: How CARES impacts LEND Programs
    • LEND is one piece of systems change. There are three main aspects of CARES funding and programs. Share this resource: Programs and Activities Funded through CARES
    • Reauthorization and appropriation of funding is critical to continue to impact your constituents with autism and their families. Share this resource: LEND Appropriations


In an opinion letter issued last week, the Department of Labor concluded that the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers an employee's attendance at a school meeting where their child's individualized education program (IEP) will be discussed.

Action Step:

  • It's important for parents of students with disabilities to know their rights. Share this widely with your networks and communities.

Civil Rights

The proposed changes to the public charge rule have been released in the Federal Register. The new regulations expand the definition of "public charge" to include non-cash benefits - such as nutrition assistance, housing vouchers and subsidized medical insurance. There will likely be litigation to block the changes.

Action Steps:

  • Our friends at Rooted in Rights have created video resources that illustrate how this change would impact families that include people with disabilities.
  • You can view our comments here and learn more about what a public charge is here.  Learn more about the potential impact of the new rule here.

Mental Health

There has been increased engagement in the disability community around gun violence and its connections to mental health. President Donald Trump on Thursday advocated the return of more mental health institutions to combat gun violence, while also supporting background checks for gun purchases.

Action Steps:

Deep Dive Series

With Congress on Recess, we will spend each week digging deeper into various topics that are of issue in the disability space.

Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE)

CIE means real work for real pay in a job that people with disabilities want. CIE options should match with a person's interests, wants, skills, and support needs. People with disabilities want jobs and even careers. Having a career leads to self-determination, independence, productivity, and a healthy and satisfying quality of life.

Workforce Investment Opportunities Act (WIOA) of 2014

Title 4 (title means a section of the whole bill) of WIOA amended (or changed) The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to define CIE as working full- or part- time where the person is:

  • Paid at or above minimum (meaning the lowest allowed) wage
  • Get benefits provided to other employees
  • At a workplace with people without disabilities
  • Chances to grow in skills, positions and in the company

It tells Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) offices in states to

  • conduct transition planning with students by age 16
  • provide pre-employment transition services (or Pre-ETS) to help students with disabilities get ready for competitive employment (ex: job counseling, work-based learning experiences, social skills, etc.)
  • limit use of subminimum wage (The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) has Section 14(c) certificates which allows for people with disabilities to be paid less than the minimum wage and work in sheltered workshops. This is not competitive integrated employment.)

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004

IDEA defines CIE as when a student has worked for pay at or above the minimum wage in a setting with others who are nondisabled.

How are Pre-Employment Transition Services (Rehabilitation Act) and Transition Services (IDEA) working together to reach Competitive Integrated Employment?

Both education and vocational rehabilitation have key roles and responsibilities in improving employment and assisting students in getting competitive integrated employment. Both must be involved in creating opportunities for students to develop skills and knowledge to prepare for careers.

What is the difference between subminimum wage and minimum wage?

Subminimum wage means a wage paid less than the federal minimum wage which is $7.25. There are some employees (including people with disabilities) who can be paid at hourly rates below the minimum wage according to the FLSA.

What do we need to do to have more CIE?  

1.    Guidance, policies and strategies to support federal funding for CIE

2.    Early work experiences for people with disabilities

3.    Family involvement and support

4.    Professional development and training for staff who work on CIE

5.    Access to assistive technology

6.    Systems (VR and education) working together

7.    Change the FLSA to end Section 14(c) certificates

The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act of 2019 (HR 873, S 260)

This was introduced by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA). It provides an approach to phasing out Section 14(c) subminimum wage over a six-year period while providing the funding, supports and training necessary to change the infrastructure of outdated business models.

Action Needed:

Call your Representative and Senators and ask them to support the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act. Use the following script:

I am [Name] from [City]. Please cosponsor the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (HR 873/S260). This bill will help with the issue of employment of people with disabilities. It provides funding and technical assistance (or help) to states and providers to expand capacity (or ability) for competitive integrated employment while carefully phasing out over six years the ability of businesses to pay people with disabilities below the minimum wage - often pennies on the dollar - under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The bill will help businesses using 14(c) certificates transform into competitive, integrated workplaces where people with disabilities work alongside people without disabilities and get paid equal pay for equal work. Just like everyone else, people with disabilities want to work. Please support the Transformation Act to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Tuesdays with Liz: Jerry Alliston on Emergency Prep

This episode of Tuesdays with Liz is dedicated to the importance of emergency preparedness for people with disabilities. Liz interviews Jerry Alliston (Community Education Director at the Mississippi UCEDD) about his experience and lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. To learn more about emergency preparedness, please visit https://www.aucd.org/template/page.cf....



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For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms 





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