As communities across New York State begin planning to reopen schools, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is cosponsoring legislation to increase funding for children with disabilities. The coronavirus pandemic poses a unique threat to the education of more than 7 million school-aged children with disabilities, and nearly 500,000 infants and toddlers with disabilities, who rely on support and services that have been difficult to continue or adjust during school closures. The Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act appropriates $11 billion for state grants under theIndividuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), $1.2 billion for early childhood education programs, $55 million under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, and requires recipients of funds to report to Congress how this money is spent. Gillibrand and her Senate colleagues are calling for the legislation to be included in the next coronavirus relief package.
“The coronavirus outbreak has exacerbated inequalities that students with disabilities face in our country, and made continuing quality education for these students even more difficult as schools have transitioned to remote learning,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We must ensure that support is delivered to those in need so that quality education is accessible for all. I’m proud to support this critical funding to address the disproportionate impact of this crisis on children with disabilities.”
Senator Gillibrand has advocated for children and students with disabilities throughout her career. In addition to the Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act, she is also a cosponsor of the Keep Our PACT Act, which would mandate full funding for Title I, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), both of which are chronically underfunded. Title I, which gives assistance to America’s highest-need schools was underfunded by $347 billion from 2005-2017. Similarly, IDEA calls on the federal government to fund 40 percent of the cost of special education, but IDEA state grants are currently funded at just 14.7 percent.
Full text of the legislation can be found here.