The Working Group has provided their recommendations for the Reauthorization of IDEA. A matrix of the recommendations has been provided, but the actual proposed bill is not yet out. Based on the matrix, the proposals are far more family friendly. David Hoppe and the other members of the working group are to be commended for their efforts. The proposal strengthens the definition of parents. Additionally, parent participation is stronger in the decision making process in all areas from initial placement to decisions regarding discipline. The proposal has included voluntary mediation provided by a trained impartial third party, who can not be a part of the LEA or SEA. The discipline language is much better. There is NO CESSATION of services. Alternative placements for weapons, drugs, and with the direction of a hearing officer, for students where it has been demonstrated that they are a danger to themselves or others, can not exceed 45 days. All other disciplinary actions are not to exceed 10 school days. The proposal also clarifies that the IEP team, including the parent, determines the alternative setting for a child. There is much more in the proposal; these are just some of the highlights. The one thing we need to keep asking for is stronger implementation and monitoring of programs and services. We are interested in your thoughts and ideas about the proposed changes. Contact NPND to learn how to become a member of one of the working legislative teams.
For a full set of the IDEA Working Group documents, contact Senator Lott’s office via the Capitol Switchboard: 1-800-962-3524, or 202-224-3121.
Recently, House Republicans released their plan for reauthorizing the Rehabilitation Act. A “non- controversial” bill was slated to be introduced on April 16, followed by a markup in the Education, Training and Lifelong Learning Subcommittee on April 24 and a markup by the full Education and the Workforce Committee on April 30. The legislation would extend the Rehab Act for two years. A potentially problematic new proposal would allow for a “limited written plan” as a substitute for the usual Individual Written Rehab Plan, if the client requests such a limited plan.
Thanks to the Arc for this information.
As part of the “I Am Your Child” Early Childhood Public Engagement Campaign, ABC will air an hour-long ABC special on Monday April 28 at 8pm ET. The special, produced by Rob Reiner and Michele Singer Reiner, special will feature music, comedy and a documentary about a community that has mobilized on behalf of young children. The program will be hosted by Tom Hanks with appearances by Billy Crystal, Michael J. Fox, Charlton Heston, Rosie O’Donnell, Roseanne, Shaquille O’Neal, Robin Williams, Oprah Winfrey, General Colin Powell and President and Mrs. Clinton. The show will build on brain research and will touch on topics that relate to child care, health care, parenting, and community support for children and families.
For more information, visit the website at http://www.iamyourchild.org
On April 27 - 29th the Presidents' Summit for America's Future will challenge communities across the country to dedicate themselves to a new level of commitment to volunteer service, especially targeting young people. The five goals of the Summit are children's issues: mentoring; safe places to learn and grow; a healthy start; a marketable skill; & community service.
Over 260, 000 children nationally who began receiving SSI under the functional assessment test that Congress and the President have now ended, will be reviewed under a much stricter, new functional test. Social Security issued new regulations in February and is now considering making changes in them as a result of very critical comments they received. Community Legal Services, a national advocate and resource around the SSI disability program, is advising that we make our voices heard in the Congress and the White House to change the rules to make them less harsh and less tied to the overly strict Listings of Impairments. (Children will have to meet or “equal,” including “functionally equal,” these Listings.) Stories of families being reviewed or terminated should be presented in writing to Congressmen and Senators as well as to local, and if possible, national media: TV, radio and newspapers. Copies of stories should be sent to Community Legal Services via FAX: (215) 981-0436, or mailed to CLS, 1424 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA, 19105- 2505.
It is important for any child terminated under the new redetermination to appeal quickly as benefits will continue through the Social Security Judge hearing level if appeals are made within 10 days. (Late appeals will be ok if “good cause” is presented.) All families appealing should seek the aid of an advocate from a local legal aid office, pro bono (free) lawyer, Protection and Advocacy office, or private lawyer who knows SSI disability law.
Community Legal Services staff is available to take calls for advice, where to get local advocacy support, and how to get involved to turn back this punitive change in policy for children. You can call the following: Jonathan Stein (215-981-3742); Richard Weishaupt (215-981-3773); Mary Noland (215-981-3788).
We support, and urge the Congress to pass, the bipartisan Hatch-Kennedy CHILD (Children's Health Insurance and Lower Deficits) legislation, S.525 and S. 526.
Every child deserves a healthy start in life. There are presently 10 million uninsured children in the country under age 18 who cannot count on access to quality health care when they need it. Nine in ten of these children have a parent who works. The number of children losing private health insurance increases by 3,300 every day.
The Hatch-Kennedy CHILD legislation makes child health coverage accessible and affordable for
the families of these 10 million uninsured children:
· The Hatch-Kennedy CHILD legislation gives grants to states to provide vouchers to pay all or part of the cost of private health insurance for 5 million uninsured children and pregnant women in families with incomes too high for Medicaid.
· Parents of the two million uninsured children in families with incomes too high to qualify for vouchers could buy health insurance for their children at the low-cost group rate from the same health plans that contract with the state for the voucher system.
· Three million more uninsured children have access to health coverage because they are eligible for Medicaid today.
The Hatch-Kennedy CHILD legislation funds children's health coverage through a 43 cents per pack increase in federal tobacco taxes. It is estimated that this tobacco excise tax increase will raise $30 billion over five years -- $20 billion to fund children's health coverage and $10 billion for deficit reduction -- and also reduce smoking by children and youth by almost 16 percent nationwide.
Now is the time to provide health insurance coverage for all of America's children.__________________________________________________________________________
Susan Polan, American Cancer Society, Fax: 202-546-1682; Email: susan_polan @test.cancer.org
Gregg Haifley, Children's Defense Fund, Fax: 202-662-3550; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please call or write the following Senators who have co-sponsored both parts of the Hatch-Kennedy CHILD legislation (the insurance piece, and the tobacco tax) and thank them for their leadership in the effort to provide health insurance coverage for all of America's uninsured children: Sen. Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Jeffords (R-VT), Sen. Rockefeller (D- WV), Sen. Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Smith (R-OR), Sen. Bingaman (D-NM), Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Sen. Snowe (R-ME), Sen. Boxer (D-CA), Sen. Murray (D-WA), Sen. Wellstone (D-MN), Sen. Dodd (D-CT), Sen. Reed (D-RI), Sen. Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Reid (D-NV).
If a Senator is a co-sponsor of S.525, but not of S.526, which provides for the 43 cent per pack tobacco tax increase to provide for children's health coverage and to reduce the deficit, please ask the Senator to also co-sponsor S.526: Sen. Campbell (R-CO), Sen. Daschle (D-SD), Sen. Stevens (R-AK), Sen. Collins (R-ME), Sen. Mikulski (D-MD)
Please call or write all of the remaining Senators, who have not given their support to either bill, and urge them to co-sponsor the bipartisan Hatch-Kennedy CHILD legislation, S.525 and S.526, to provide health coverage for America's uninsured children and lower the deficit, funded by a 43 cent per pack tobacco tax increase.
All Senators may be reached via the Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 or 1-800-962-3524; or via mail at The Honorable ___________, US Senate, Wash., DC 20510