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October 02, 2020

Rep. Schiff Introduces Bill to Support Children with Disabilities During COVID-19

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced the Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act, to ensure schools and educators have the resources they need to support children with disabilities and continue compliance with federal disability education laws, despite the challenges caused by the pandemic.

This legislation would provide critical funding to assist schools in their mission to fully support students with disabilities with individualized services that are tailored to meet the needs of each student and uphold their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

“Students with disabilities have always been among the most vulnerable in our educational system, but now with the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of these students falling behind is even greater,” said Rep. Schiff. “We must ensure that schools have the resources they need to support students with disabilities and continue to provide them with the high-quality education they deserve.”

“This pandemic has caused significant learning challenges for children with disabilities in our nation. Our education systems are in need of substantial funding and resources to support our students in special education,” said Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. “That is why I am proud to lead the Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act with my colleague Congressman Adam Schiff. This bill will make sure that our hardworking educators receive support during this challenging time, so that students with disabilities receive the same quality education as their peers.”

The Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act will provide:

  • $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.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the structural inequities in our education system. We need to implement a focal student approach where we structure the classroom to meet the needs of students farthest from learning. We are grateful to Congressman Adam Schiff for introducing legislation to increase funding for children with disabilities,” said Dr. Vivian Ekchian, Superintendent, Glendale Unified School District. “The Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID 19 Act will assist us in turning challenges into opportunities for our most vulnerable students." 

“On behalf of the Burbank Unified School District Board of Education, I want to thank Congressman Schiff for his leadership in introducing the Supporting Children With Disabilities During COVID-19 Act,” said Dr. Matt Hill, Superintendent, Burbank Unified School District. “It is critical for schools to receive additional funding in order to address the impact COVID-19 has had on students, especially our students with disabilities.”

“Young learners, students with learning differences and disabilities and those who were struggling in the classroom before school facilities were closed are facing real challenges with online learning while schools are closed,” said Austin Beutner, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent. “Congress made a commitment to students with differences and disabilities many years ago when it passed IDEA but it has never fully funded the need. This legislation is an important step to properly fund IDEA. The funding proposed by Rep. Schiff and other members of Congress would provide much needed resources to support students with disabilities.”

Supporting organizations for this bill include: AASA (The School Superintendents Association), American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Teachers, American Music Therapy Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, Association of Educational Service Agencies, Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), Autism Society of America, Autism Speaks, Council for Exceptional Children, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA), National Alliance of Specialized Instructional Support Personnel, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, National Consortium for Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities, National Disability Rights Network, National Down Syndrome Congress, National PTA, National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium, National Rural Education Association, National School Boards Association, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, The Arc of the United States.

Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the companion bill in the Senate. Click here to read the full text of the legislation.