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How can I affect bigger issues regarding individuals with Down syndrome?
Major issues for persons with disabilities include getting a quality education, access to community-based quality residential living services (including housing and transportation) and getting a meaningful job, which offers some economic self-sufficiency.
These are daunting tasks, but the good news is you can make an impact.
Politicians campaigning for elected offices today will determine future public policy. Public policy is important to all citizens. Who we elect to represent us and our concerns matter — to members and families of the National Down Syndrome Congress.
As you decide who will get your vote in November, learn where candidates stand on these important issues by asking questions. Start by asking candidates if they have a written position statement on disability policies. If they don’t have one, ask why and offer to share your expertise as a parent or family member of a person with Down syndrome on critical issues that your family faces.
Additionally, one of the most effective ways to have an impact on federal legislation is to contact your senator or representative when an issue of importance is at the front of the legislative agenda. NDSC governmental affairs will often issue “calls for action” to our members letting them know when to contact their elected congressional representatives about issues affecting individuals with Down syndrome. You can stay up to date on these calls to action by liking our Governmental Affairs Facebook page.
- Questions for political candidates on important issues
- Questions for Candidates on Education and EmploymentPrior to 1971, public schools had no obligation to educate children with disabilities and many did not. The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (later renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — IDEA) guarantees all children the right to a free and appropriate public education in the school they would otherwise attend if they did not have disabilities. The goal of education for all individuals is to prepare them for a meaningful career, economic self-sufficiency and a meaningful life in the community. Despite the fact that this law was passed more than 30 years ago, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities remains at about 90 percent.
Questions for candidates
- Should schools provide the same opportunities (academic and non-academic) for students with disabilities as they do for non-disabled students?
- When parents disagree with schools and need to utilize due process procedures, do you think the burden of proof should be on the parents or the schools?
- Should parents be required to pay expert witness fees when they use an expert witness in a due process hearing?
- Do you think transition services (for ages 18-21) to prepare students with disabilities for jobs and other post-secondary opportunities should be real jobs in the community with people who are not disabled?
- Do you think the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act should be fully funded at the federal level as was promised when initially passed?
- Do you think that all people with disabilities should have the opportunity to work at a real job with competitive wages?
- What would you do to increase work opportunities for people with disabilities?
- Questions for Candidates on Community Living ServicesThe federal/state Medicaid program funds most adult services such as housing, transportation and support staff who provide assistance to individuals with disabilities with the activities of daily living. It also provides services to some children with disabilities. It is a funding stream that is biased towards costlier institutional care and under siege at the federal and state levels.
If you want those safety net services to be in place when your child grows up — or to remain in place if your family member with Down syndrome now uses them — then you need to know where candidates stand on funding adult services.
Question for Candidates
- What would you do to ensure that federal and state budget shortfalls do not harm programs and support services for individuals with disabilities to live in their community?
- What do you see as the role of the federal government in disability policy?
- What do you think of the trend to limit the role of the federal government in disability policy?
- What do you see as the role of disability advocates as states move to managed care systems to deliver Medicaid (community-based support services) to adults with disabilities?
- What would you do to ensure that federal and state budget shortfalls do not harm programs for individuals with disabilities?
This list is not exhaustive – feel free to develop your own questions. You can always ask a follow-up question.
- Questions for Candidates on Education and Employment
- Policy Documents
Analysis of Draft ESSA State Plans (by NDSC and The Advocacy Institute)
- Webinar Archives
Post-Election Analysis (Jan 24, 2017)
ESSA 3-Part Series ~ What You Can Do to Impact Implementation
Presented by NDSC, NDSS & DSAIA
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
What YOU Can Do to Impact ESSA Implementation
Presented by Ricki Sabia, NDSC Senior Education Policy Advisor and Heather Sachs, NDSS Vice President of Advocacy & Public Policy on October 25, 2016
Slides – joint-ndsc-ndss-essa-overview-webinar-final
Webinar video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8C5f93A9_Y&feature=youtu.be
Strategies for Successful Public Policy Advocacy
Powerpoint – NDSC policy webinar 2015