Combating Autism Act Trainee Subcommittee

December 10, 2013

The Combating Autism Act must be reauthorized this year or it will expire! This law provides critical funding for LEND programs and other coordinated federal efforts to address the needs of people on the autism spectrum as well as other developmental disabilities.  LEND trainees are encouraged to become involved.

Many of you will recall the requests for legislative advocacy from the AUCD Legislative Affairs Department during the summer of 2011 related the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA).  It was the coordinated and sustained effort between the AUCD Network and partnering advocacy organizations that made President Obama's signing of CARA on September, 30, 2011( the day it was set to expire) possible.

The Legislative Affairs Committee has already started strategizing our advocacy efforts focused on reauthorization in 2014.  To this end, the Legislative Affairs Committee has approved the creation of a Combating Autism Act Workgroup, chaired by Amie Lulinski, 2011 AUCD Disability Leadership Policy Fellow and current staff at the Illinois UCEDD and LEND.   Amie's initial idea for this workgroup began in early 2013 after reflecting on how crucial network involvement in the passage of the reauthorization and the tremendous advocacy opportunity it presents for trainees.

The purpose of this workgroup is twofold: to provide assistance to the Legislative Affairs staff and Committee with overall coordination of advocacy efforts among our national network of Centers; and to assist trainees fulfill the MCH Leadership Core Competency of Policy and Advocacy.  We believe this workgroup will provide a unique opportunity to provide trainees with hands-on legislative experience at the state and national levels while fulfilling a program requirement.

Over the summer, each Center was asked to identify and appoint at least one trainee to serve on the workgroup. The trainees first met via webinar on September 19, during which they reviewed the history of the Combating Autism Act in 2006 and the reauthorization process in 2011. In October, the group convened via conference call and discussed: the differences between lobbying and educating; trainee policy project ideas; and the latest news on the ratification of the Disability Treaty. In November, an in-person meet-up was also held during the 2013 AUCD Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.  The next meeting will be scheduled in January 2014 when action on reauthorization is expected to begin.

 We hope to increase workgroup participation so that all 50 states and the District of Columbia are represented. If this model proves helpful, we anticipate using it for future legislative priorities.  For more information on joining this group, please contact Kim Musheno or Amie Lulinski.