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U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, Representing the 30th District of Texas

Representatives Johnson and Schiff Introduce the Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act

Oct 2, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced legislation to increase funding for children with disabilities in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act appropriates $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, and requires recipients of funds to report to Congress how this money is spent. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-VT), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the companion bill in the Senate.

“This pandemic has caused significant learning challenges for children with disabilities in our nation. Our education systems are in need of substantial funding and resources to support our students in special education,” said Congresswoman Johnson. “That is why I am proud to lead the Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act with my colleague Congressman Adam Schiff. This bill will make sure that our hardworking educators receive support during this challenging time, so that students with disabilities receive the same quality education as their peers.”

“Students with disabilities have always been among the most vulnerable in our educational system, but now with the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of these students falling behind is even greater,” said Representative 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.”

“While all students have faced challenges associated with accessing distance learning, community supports and other related services during the pandemic, students with autism and other disabilities have been disproportionately impacted. Families and educators have shared with Autism Speaks that many autistic students have experienced learning loss and skill regression due to a lack of in-person instruction and related services like speech, occupational and behavioral therapies. Until a safe return to in-person learning is widely available, we must do everything we can to increase access to and improve the quality of services our students receive through schools, whether in person or at home,” said Angela T. Geiger, President & CEO of Autism Speaks. “We are grateful for the leadership of Reps. Johnson and Schiff for introducing this important legislation to provide the dedicated special education funding schools need to serve autistic youth.”

"The COVID-19 pandemic has added stress to our public education system and the persistent underfunding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been felt acutely. Our nation's educators need additional resources to effectively serve students with disabilities who have been disproportionately impacted by this crisis. We thank Representatives Schiff and Johnson for their leadership in introducing the Supporting Children with Disabilities during COVID-19 Act.  Emergency IDEA funding is essential to providing equitable educational opportunities to every child with a disability and must be part of Congress's response to the pandemic." -- Lindsay Jones, President & CEO of National Center for Learning Disabilities

“The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) applauds the introduction of the Supporting Children With Disabilities During COVID-19 Act. This bill provides critical funding for the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). We know that students with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted during COVID and this crucial bill will help ensure that students with disabilities are able to receive an education in accordance with the IDEA during this difficult time.” -- National Disability Rights Network

"The Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act would greatly help children with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have been particularly disadvantaged during the pandemic," said Annie Acosta, Director of Fiscal and Family Support Policy of The Arc.  "The additional resources provided by the legislation would go a long way in making up for the significant learning loss and social regression these children are experiencing.  The Arc sincerely thanks Representatives Schiff and Johnson for seeking to provide dedicated funds for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) programs which, unfortunately, no previous COVID relief laws have done.  The chronic underfunding of IDEA has never been felt more acutely than now and we urge Congress to pass this measure to maximize the potential of children with disabilities."

Supporting organizations for this bill include: AASA (The School Superintendents Association), American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Teachers, American Music Therapy Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, Association of Educational Service Agencies, Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), Autism Society of America, Autism Speaks, Council for Exceptional Children, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA), National Alliance of Specialized Instructional Support Personnel, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, National Consortium for Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities, National Disability Rights Network, National Down Syndrome Congress, National PTA, National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium, National Rural Education Association, National School Boards Association, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, The Arc of the United States.

Click here to read the full text of the legislation.