Disability Policy News | December 4, 2023 | Vol. MMXXIII | Issue 82

December 4, 2023

 
 

 December 4, 2023 | Vol. MMXXIII | Issue 82

 
 

Budget and Appropriations

On November 16, 2023, President Biden signed the continuing resolution (CR) (H.R. 6363), avoiding a government shutdown for a second time. A CR continues last year’s funding at the prior levels while Congress works to complete the process for funding the federal government for Fiscal Year 2024. The CR contains two different dates for when it expires. It expires for agencies covered by the Agriculture, Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD bills on January 19th, and expires for the other eight bills, including the Labor-Health-Human Services- Education- Related Agencies (LHHS) bill (H.R. 5894) on February 2, 2024.

On November 16th, President Biden signed a continuing resolution, which continues current government funding until the beginning of 2024.  Congress is still working to pass all of the budget bills before the deadlines.  Some of the budget bills need to be passed by January 19th, and others need to be passed by February 2, 2024.

The House needed two-thirds of those present to pass the CR. It passed 336-95. The Senate followed and passed the CR 87-11. The CR did not contain emergency supplemental funding for Ukraine, Israel or other domestic priorities. Prior to recessing for Thanksgiving, the House of Representatives began work to finalize the LHHS bill, but did not complete the process or hold a floor vote on the bill prior to recessing.  

 

Plain Language 

On November 16, 2023, President Biden signed a continuing resolution, which continues current government funding until the beginning of 2024. Congress is still working to pass all of the budget bills before the deadlines.  Some of the budget bills need to be passed by January 19, 2024, and others need to be passed by February 2, 2024.

 

Action Steps

Call and educate your Members of Congress on the importance of funding for disability programs.  You can reach your Members by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

 
 
 

Representative Porter Introduces the Mental Health Justice Act in the House of Representatives

On November 16, 2023, Representatives Katie Porter (D-CA-47) and 48 other Representatives introduced the bi-partisan Mental Health Justice Act (H.R. 6451). The bill looks “to reduce the killing and incarceration of people with mental illnesses, substance use disorders, and intellectual or developmental disabilities, and instead connect them with the health care and services they need.”

The bill will establish grant programs for state and local governments to hire, train, and dispatch mental health professionals instead of law enforcement officers in emergencies involving a person experiencing a mental health crisis; allow the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide technical assistance to grant recipients; require a study on the effectiveness of the grant program; and create and disseminate resources for best practices for mental health professionals responding to mental health emergencies. 

 

Plain Language 

On November 16, 2023, Representatives Katie Porter (D-CA-47) and 48 other Representatives introduced the bi-partisan Mental Health Justice Act (H.R. 6451). The bill will give money to state and local governments so they can train mental health professionals that can help people experiencing a mental health crisis. Often, police with little training on mental health, are called to respond to an individual experiencing a mental health crisis instead of a trained professional. This will make sure that those in crisis get access to the help they need.

 

Action Steps

Read the announcement from Representative Porter. Read the bill text. Call and educate your Members of Congress on the importance of creating safe communities for people with disabilities.  You can reach your Representatives by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.Census Bureau Releases Proposed Changes to Disability Data Collection

 
 

Census Bureau Releases Proposed Changes to Disability Data Collection

On October 20, 2023, the U.S. Census Bureau proposed changes to the disability questions that are presented in the American Community Survey. These changes have a strong possibility of undercounting the disability population. Leading disability scholars have estimated these changes will reduce national prevalence estimates of disability from 14 percent to 8 percent. The change in the prevalence rate would lead to reduced funding for critical programs since these numbers are relied on when determining funding for programs. These changes were also proposed with no consultation from the disability community. The Census Bureau is accepting comments on these new changes until December 19, 2023.

 

Plain Language 

In October, the Census Bureau announced changes to the way they would collect data on the disability community. The proposed changes will likely undercount the number of people with disabilities in the United States, which would lead to a decrease in funding for programs. The Census is collecting comments on the proposed changes until December 19, 2023.

 

Action Steps

Read more about the proposed changes. Respond to the current Federal Register request for comment or use this alert from the National Disability Rights Network.

 
 

U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Release Updated Resources to Support Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs

On November 28th, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released an updated joint policy statement on supporting the inclusion of children with disabilities in early childhood programs. The statement highlights current expectations for inclusive childhood settings and recommendations for state and local agencies that implement education programs for students with disabilities. The statement also includes examples of evidence-based models and resources for programs to support the inclusion of children with disabilities in all early childhood programs.

 

Plain Language 

On November 28, 2023, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released updated recommendations on how to include children with disabilities in early childhood education programs. The recommendations also include examples of how states and local governments can make their education programs more inclusive of young children with disabilities.

 

Action Steps

Read the announcement.  Read a summary of the policy statement. Read the joint policy statement. 

 

 

U.S. Department of Education Releases the Civil Rights Data Collection from 2020-2021

The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S Department of Education has released the data for the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) for the 2020-2021 school year. The CRDC collects data from every state and territory related to students’ access and barriers to education opportunities from early childhood through 12th grade every two years. Data is collected on student enrollment, access to courses, programs and school staff, and school climate factors (bullying, harassment, restraint and seclusion, student discipline, etc.). Most of the data collected by CRDC is disaggregated by race, ethnicity, sex, disability, and language so those reviewing the data can see how different populations of students are doing in school.

 

Plain Language 

The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S Department of Education has released the data for the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) for the 2020-2021 school year. The data shows how students are doing in schools. Every two years, the CRDC shares this information that shows how students are doing in schools and what barriers they are experiencing in getting an education. The information lets you see how students with disabilities are doing compared to other students.

 

Action Steps

Look at CRDC’s data for the 2020-2021 school year. Use this information to inform how your local schools can improve access to education for students with disabilities.

 
 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Releases the 2022 Report to Congress on Supportive Services for Individuals with Autism

On November 29, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the 2022 Report to Congress on Supportive Services for Individuals with Autism. The report describes the supports and services available to individuals with autism and their families. The report also includes a summary of the research on the benefits of these services, and reviews information on existing policies. The report also highlights several critical areas of need, including long waitlists for services, the lack of transition services, workforce shortages, racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities, and more. 

 

Plain Language 

On November 29, 2023, the Department of Health and Human Services released the 2022 Report to Congress on Supportive Services for Individuals with Autism. The report shares information on different types of services and supports for individuals with autism and their families.

 

Action Steps

Read the announcement from HHS. Read the 2022 Report to Congress on Supportive Services for Individuals with Autism.

 
 

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Celebrates 48 Years of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

On November 29, 2023, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the Office of Special Education Policy (OSEP) celebrated the 48th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). To commemorate this anniversary, OSERS and OSEP released a list of resources including question and answer documents, guidance, policies, and more to highlight their work over the last year. 

 

Plain Language 

On November 29, 2023, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the Office of Special Education Policy (OSEP) celebrated the 48th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). To celebrate this anniversary, OSERS and OSEP released a list of resources that highlight the work they have done over the last year.

 

Action Steps

Read more about the resources from OSERS and OSEP.  Watch Tuesdays with Liz with OSERS Acting Secretary Katy Neas.

 
 

Check out the latest episode of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All is a YouTube video series highlighting current issues and hot topics in disability policy. Past guests of Tuesdays with Liz include US Senators, AUCD’s President Elect, and key members of the disability community.

Liz Weintraub is AUCD's Senior Advocacy Specialist and the host of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All.

Liz has extensive experience practicing leadership in self advocacy and has held many board and advisory positions at state and national organizations, including the Council on Quality & Leadership (CQL) and the Maryland Development Disabilities Council. 

Find the full playlist on YouTube or check out the latest episode featuring OSERS' Deputy Assistant Secretary, Katy Neas.

 
Tuesdays with Liz: Factors of Employment Transition for People with Disabilities
 
 
 
 
 
 
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