Election Season is Upon Us: Stay Informed – Stay Engaged
As a 501(c)(3) organization, NDSC does not endorse nor recommend any candidates in any political race. Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign or endorsing any candidate for elective public office. Our job is to encourage everyone to stay informed and participate in the political process, particularly as it relates to issues impacting the disability community. Below are a few resources that you can reference to learn about policy issues as they pertain to disabilities and engage with other disability community advocates.
As 2019 comes to a close and we welcome in a new decade, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in policy and recognition of its importance. Laws that are passed or regulations that are modified or repealed, on the national and state level, will have an impact on our loved ones with Down syndrome and their families for many years to come.
NDSC Hosts Policy Event in Washington, D.C. in Collaboration with American University Law School
On Monday, November 4, 2019, the NDSC Policy Team; comprised of Heather Sachs, Ricki Sabia, Stephanie Smith Lee, and Lauren Camp Gates in collaboration with American University Washington College of Law, hosted an event entitled “It’s Never Too Early to Prepare: A Discussion of Pathways to Workforce Readiness and Employment.” During this event, attended by nearly 100 people, there were two panel discussions about the laws and policies that successfully prepare students for the transition to competitive integrated employment from early school age through adulthood.
Let’s Pass the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act!
October is not only Down Syndrome Awareness Month; it is alsoNational Disability Employment Awareness Month. Let’s cap off the month by calling members of Congress to ask them to support real work for real pay for people for disabilities. NDSC is participating in a National Call-In Day on October 30, and we need your help. We need to build more support for this bill and are asking you to send emails and make phone calls to get more cosponsors for the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (TCEA)
Autism CARES Act Passes Senate and Heads to White House!
Great news! On September 19, 2019, the Autism CARES Act of 2019 (H.R. 1058) passed the Senate unanimously and now heads to the President’s desk for signature. Championed by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) in the House and Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the bill provides $1.8 billion over five years and will authorize autism-related programs at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the Health Resources and Services Administration.
If you have been told, or have concerns, that your child cannot be educated in the general education classroom because he or she takes an alternate assessment a brief published by the TIES Center, which is co-authored by Ricki Sabia, NDSC Senior Education Policy Advisor and TIES Center parent liaison, and Dr. Martha Thurlow, Director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) and Ties Center Advisor, may be a useful resource to you. The brief can be downloaded by clicking on the link on the bottom right side of the TIES Center home page https://tiescenter.org/.
Autism CARES Act: Advocacy Needed Now for Reauthorization!
The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act (also known as the Autism CARES Act) will sunset (expire) on September 30, 2019, if it is not renewed (reauthorized) by Congress by then. The current Autism CARES Act (S. 427/H.R. 1058) provides $260 million annually to autism research, surveillance, and education programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). These programs benefit all people with developmental disabilities, including all people with Down syndrome and especially the approximately 18% of people with Down syndrome who have a co-occurrence of autism.
NDSC is Working Hard to Protect LRE (Least Restrictive Environment)
Last week, NDSC received word that the US Department of Education (ED) was planning to release guidance in the immediate future that would likely make it more difficult than it already is for children with disabilities to be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Immediately, the NDSC Policy Team and members of the NDSC Policy Council began to take action to protect the legal presumption in IDEA that all children with disabilities will be educated in the general education classroom; except in the rare circumstance that the child cannot get a satisfactory education in that environment even with the provision of supplementary aids and services.
Money Follows the Person (MFP) Program Reauthorization Passes House; Calls to Senate Needed Now!
On June 18, the House passed a bill that included 4.5 years of funding for the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. This is great news, but it is time for the Senate to act! Please call your Senators and urge them to pass the EMPOWER Care Act (S. 548) to reauthorize MFP. You can use our Action Alert.
The Money Follows the Person (MFP) program is a Medicaid program that has helped more than 75,000 people with disabilities and seniors move from nursing homes and other institutions into the community. First authorized in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 with strong bipartisan support, the MFP Demonstration program was designed to assist states with (1) supporting Medicaid enrollees who want to transition from institutional settings to community-based settings; and (2) developing infrastructure to promote and enhance access to Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). HCBS provides critical supports to people with disabilities to enhance their ability to be included and integrated into their communities instead of receiving care in restrictive, institutional settings. Each state can decide how to use the MFP funds, which they have used to expand or enhance HCBS programs, reduce waiting lists and fund housing supports.
Comment Today to Support Equal Pay for People with Disabilities!
This week the Department of Labor announced its new website, “the Section 14(c) National Online Dialogue.” The purpose of the website is to collect comments from the public about the impact of paying subminimum wages to people with disabilities under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers with 14(c) certificates can legally pay people with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage, often times pennies on the dollar. Section 14(c) certificates are typically used in “sheltered workshops,” where people with disabilities are segregated from the broader community. The vast majority of disability advocates view Section 14(c) (created in 1938) as outdated, discriminatory, and reinforcing a life of poverty, segregation, and dependency on public support for people with disabilities. It is critical that you make your voice heard!
Input from people with disabilities, families, employment providers and employers is important. Share your perspective online here. COMMENT DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO FRIDAY JUNE 21,