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February 08, 2021

Reps. Schiff, Bernice Johnson Introduce Bill to Support Children with Disabilities During COVID-19

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) announced the introduction of 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).

“As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into its eleventh month, far too many students with disabilities have fallen behind. These students have always been among the most vulnerable in our educational system, but this year has posed even greater barriers to their success.” 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 substantial challenges in all of our lives, and children with disabilities have been faced with significant learning challenges as a result. We must ensure that our educational systems have the financial resources they need to support our special education programs, educators, and parents,” said Rep. Bernice Johnson. “It is for these children that I am proud to introduce the ‘Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act’ with my colleagues. These students should receive the same quality education as their peers during this ongoing public health crisis.”

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.

Schiff and Bernice Johnson first introduced legislation to support children with disabilities in the 116th Congress. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the companion bill in the Senate.

"The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act cemented a basic right into law: that all students—no matter their disability—receive the support and resources they deserve. But for too long, we have failed to live up that promise. That's never been more true than during this pandemic, as millions of students with disabilities have faced unique challenges during remote learning and will need additional support to get back on track as schools reopen," said Sen. Murphy. "That's why I'm teaming up with Senators Hassan and Van Hollen to send schools an additional $11 billion to support students with disabilities. This is an urgent priority, and I hope to see this funding included in the next COVID relief bill."  

“Many students with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted by educational disruptions resulting from this pandemic,” said Sen. Hassan. “This legislation will provide much-needed funding to help ensure that students with disabilities continue to receive the same educational opportunities as their peers, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. I will continue working with my colleagues to see to it that this funding is included in the next COVID-19 relief package.”

“For too long, Congress has failed to uphold its end of the deal in providing full funding to ensure a quality education for students with disabilities. COVID-19 has exacerbated school funding shortages across the country, further widening this gap. That’s why Congress must act now on this legislation to address these immediate needs in response to the COVID-19 emergency, and provide long-term full-funding for IDEA through the Keep our PACT Act. We must quickly work to get this done,” said Sen. Van Hollen.

Click here to read the full text of the legislation.