Below are brief summaries of bills introduced in Congress that would affect people with autism and their families. More information on each bill and other federal actions can be found on the Autism Society of America’s Action Center webpage.
The Autism Society of North Carolina urges you to contact your members of Congress and ask for their co-sponsorship and support of these bills. The Autism Society of America’s Action Center makes it easy to take action by providing sample letters and allowing you to email Congress directly through their website.
Autism CARES Act
The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act was introduced in the House and Senate in February (new bills to reauthorize S. 427/HR 1058). Since enactment in 2006, this law has helped to train health professionals to diagnose and provide evidence-based services to people on the autism spectrum and increased research and awareness. The new bill reauthorizes the law for another five years and expands the scope to include people across the lifespan, as well as an added focus on expanding services and supports. The activities supported by the bill will end if it is not reauthorized by September 30.
IDEA Full Funding bill
The IDEA Full Funding Act (S.866/H.R.1878) was introduced in both the Senate and House in late March with bipartisan support and cosponsors. This bill would ensure that spending is increased over the next 10 years to reach the full 40% of the federal share for special education.
The federal right for children with disabilities to access public education was passed in 1973 with the promise that the federal government would fund 40% of special education. ASNC has been advocating for decades with members of Congress to fulfill this promise and increase funding from the current 14% up to 40%. Current proposals from the US Department of Education would flat-fund special education, lowering the percentage to 13%.
Transformation to Competitive Employment
This bill (S. 260/H.R. 873) is designed to strengthen the disability employment delivery systems throughout the country. The bill authorizes funding to states to strengthen its infrastructure to be able to provide real jobs with real wages in the community for individuals with autism and other disabilities. The grants would include funding for training and transition programs to move employees out of sheltered workshops and into community jobs with living wages. Specifically, the bill includes a six-year phase-out of subminimum wage certificates that are currently authorized under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Keeping All Students Safe Act
The Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R. 7124/S. 3626) would prohibit the use of seclusion in schools, reduce the use of restraint, and promote best practices that ensure the safety of students and school personnel. It includes sections that require data collection, parental notification, and grants to schools for implementation. Congressman David Price has already signed on to the bill; if you are in his district, please thank him.
Lifespan Respite Care Act Reauthorization
The Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 2035/S. 995) reauthorizes the Lifespan Respite Care Program (LRCP) program through fiscal year 2024 at $200 million over five years. The LCRP program provides competitive grants to state agencies to make quality respite available to family caregivers, regardless of the recipient’s age or disability, through coordinated State Lifespan Respite Systems. Congress funded the LRCP at $4.1 million in FY 2018 and in FY 2019. Increased funding would increase the availability of FRCP grants and expand access to respite services.
Thank you to the Autism Society of America for providing information and content for this policy update. If you have questions about federal legislation or other public policy issues, please contact Jennifer Mahan, Director of Public Policy, firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-865-5068.Tags: ASNC, autism, autism advocacy, autism society north carolina, autism society of NC, Autism Society of North Carolina, Autism spectrum, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders, autism support, Developmental disability, public policy