Policy & Advocacy Newsline ~ June 20, 2019

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.

The MFP program has been widely adopted – with 47 states participating since its inception – and has helped states to make significant progress on “balancing” their long-term services and supports systems to improve access for HCBS. The success of the MFP program has been widely recognized and documented, both in terms of effectively moving individuals from institutional to community-based care settings, reducing waiting lists for HCBS services, and saving states money (See https://medicaid.publicrep.org/empower-care-act/ for more details).

Congress had passed stop-gap funding for the MFP program in January 2019, but those funds will run out in September. Please contact your Senators today to reauthorize the MFP program!

Friday is the Last Day to Submit Comments to Department of Labor on 14(c) Subminimum Wage

Friday, June 21 is the last day to submit comments to the US Department of Labor as part of its Section 14(c) Online Dialogue about Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The Department of Labor is seeking stories and personal experiences from people with disabilities, their families, disability organizations, employers, researchers and other stakeholders on the use of 14(c) certificates, which allow employers to pay people with disabilities less than minimum (subminimum) wages.

NDSC has issued an Action Alert with all of the information needed to submit your comments. NDSC has already submitted comments to the Department of Labor and we encourage you to do the same, both as individuals and on behalf of your local organizations.

Transformation to Competitive Employment Act Update

NDSC Policy staff made numerous visits to Members of Congress to educate them about the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (H.R. 873/S.260). Introduced in the Senate by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and in the House by Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), this bipartisan legislation will address barriers to employment and expand opportunities for competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities while phasing out subminimum wage certificates under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act over a six-year period. In addition, for those who choose not to work, work part-time, or for whom their disabilities make it too difficult to maintain work in a competitive integrated setting, this bill includes individualized wraparound services that provide them with opportunities for meaningful training and social activities in the community.

We need your help to build support for this bill in Congress. Please contact your Members of Congress through this NDSC Action Alert and ask them to cosponsor the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act.

You can find a two-pager about this bill and additional resources on the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination website. For information about Competitive Integrated Employment, please see this new website developed with our partners in the newly formed Coalition to Advance Competitive Integrated Employment. Please #WorkWithUs and build more opportunities for competitive integrated employment!

CAPABILITY Act Introduced for Customized Employment

The Customized Approaches to Providing and Building Independent Lives of Inclusion for Transition-aged Youth Act of 2019 (also known as the CAPABILITY Act) (H.R. 3070) was introduced on June 4 by Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA). This bill would create grants for six states to assist transition-aged youth with intellectual or developmental disabilities with obtaining customized work opportunities that comply with requirements for competitive, integrated employment. NDSC supports this bill.

Policy Team Presentations at NDSC Convention

Are you planning to attend the NDSC Convention in Pittsburgh next week? If so, please check out these workshops and training opportunities led by the NDSC Policy Team. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 27

  • 8:00 AM–12:00 PM: Advocacy Training Boot Camp

Friday, June 28

  • 1:30 PM–3:00 PM: Town Hall meeting with Laurie VanderPloeg, Director of the Office of Special Education Programs
  • 4:00 PM–5:00 PM: Ask the Experts

Saturday, June 29

  • 9:30 AM–11:30 AM: What’s Happening in Washington DC and What You Can Do
  • 1:30 PM–3:00 PM: The Future of Inclusive Higher Education: Make Your Voice Heard
  • 4:00 PM–5:00 PM: Ask the Experts

Sunday, June 30

  • 8:30 AM–10:00 AM: Your Story. Your Voice. You Make the Difference (grassroots advocacy)
  • 10:30 AM–12:00 PM: Introduction to Inclusive Higher Education

NDSC Resource on IDEA Monitoring and Accountability

The U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is required by law to monitor state implementation of IDEA. NDSC has developed a brief to explain this monitoring process, including an explanation of the Annual Determination Letter your state receives each June/July, which indicates the extent to which it is meeting or not meeting IDEA requirements. This accountability system is called Results Driven Accountability (RDA). OSEP is in the process of “Rethinking RDA” so it is important for advocates to understand what the issues are for students with Down syndrome. Read the brief by visiting this link.

Update on IDEA Significant Disproportionality Regulations

The U.S. Department of Education (the Department) added an alert to the Office for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services website that says: “On May 6, 2019, the Department of Justice filed a Notice of Appeal in COPAA v. DeVos.” In March the U.S. District Court opinion for this case found that the Department’s two-year delay of the IDEA significant disproportionality regulations was unlawful. These regulations were developed to address the overuse of discipline and segregated placements for students of color who have disabilities.  A Notice of Appeal does not change the fact that the regulations must be currently implemented according to the court order. Therefore, we are glad that the Department published a notice on May 20th telling the states that the regulations would be enforced.  This notice came after the Department received a letter from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which NDSC signed, urging the immediate implementation of these regulations.

NDSC Comments on IDEA Implementation Data Collection

The U.S. Department of Education requested public comments on the proposed 2019 IDEA State and Local Implementation Study. NDSC submitted comments on June 11, 2019. If you are interested in reading more about the proposed study visit this link.

Report Evaluating State ESSA Plans and Accountability for Students with Disabilities

A report from the National Center for Learning Disabilities provides an analysis of how state plans include and serve students with disabilities under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).The report rates each state’s, the District of Columbia’s and Puerto Rico’s ESSA plan on three key areas:
1.    Holding Districts and Schools Accountable
2.    Helping Struggling Schools
3.    Collaborating to Support All Schools
Read the full report.

A Report on Schools in Each State that Need Improvement/Support under ESSA

A report has been published showing each state and the number/percentage of schools identified for each category under ESSA that indicates some level of support and improvement is needed for providing students a significant opportunity for a fair, equitable and high-quality education as required by the law (categories are defined at the end of the report). Targeted support and improvement (TSI) is the category that is most relevant to students with disabilities because it focuses on the consistent underperformance of one or more subgroups. Some states haven’t identified TSI schools yet because their ESSA accountability systems haven’t been around long enough to pinpoint “consistently underperforming” student subgroups. It is hard to compare states because their definitions for terms within each category differ. Some states that have identified more schools as needing improvement may actually have stronger definitions and catch schools earlier. You can download the report.

Report on Inclusive Technology in a 21st Century Learning System

This report by the National Center for Learning Disabilities and its partners addresses the need for inclusive technology decisions based on the principles of Universal Design for Learning.

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