PHOTO: Sen. Schumer has sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, calling on the panel to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Courtesy of Sen. Schumer’s Office
By Forum Staff
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) has reached out to the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee, calling for full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which helps provide special education and related services to children with autism and other developmental disabilities.
The IDEA Act, Schumer said, provides funds to state and public agencies in order to address all needs related to the country’s most vulnerable populations.
Schumer last Thursday explained that IDEA has never received a full appropriation. In Fiscal Year 2016, federal funding for IDEA Part B, which provides special educational services to children, fell short by approximately $17.85 billion. A report recently issued by the Office of Autism Research Coordination and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee suggested a lack of funding for research related to autism-associated services.
According to Schumer, IDEA is comprised four sections: A, B, C and D; the majority of educational services provided to children with disabilities fall under IDEA Part B. Under Part B, individual states and local agencies are given grants based on the state’s population of children ages 3-21, and the number of children within that age range living in poverty. The amount of funding each state receives is determined by multiplying 40 percent of the national Average per Pupil Expenditure by the number of children with disabilities served. However, in Fiscal Year 2016, federal funding for IDEA Part B only covered 16 percent of the APPE.
“There’s no better investment than one that provides children with access to a quality education, but right now, millions of children living with developmental disabilities are simply not getting the services they need to succeed,” Schumer said. “For far too long, federal funding for special educational services has fallen short by tens of billions of dollars. With millions of children living with autism and other developmental disabilities, it’s time to provide full federal funding towards the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which will help our nation’s children thrive and help countless families breathe easy knowing their kids have the services needed to succeed.”
The Office of Autism Research Coordination and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee report determined that a majority of autism funding —from both federal agencies and private organizations— is used to conduct research on the biological risk factors of autism rather than on services, such as early intervention and integration services, that will help people living with autism live their daily lives, Schumer said. The report found that in 2012, only about 7 percent of the $332 million designated for autism research went to the development of services and less than 1 percent of research funding went to issues that follow people with autism throughout their lifetime. Of the remaining funds, 30 percent went towards researching the biology of autism and 17 percent went towards researching its risk factors, Schumer said of the report’s findings.
New York’s senior senator said that he acknowledges that learning more about the biology of autism is extremely important to finding medical treatment; however, Schumer added, the federal government must also prioritize funding for services that help children with autism and other developmental disabilities live each day to their fullest.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 68 children in the U.S. have been identified with autism spectrum disorder. Additionally, 1 in 6 children between the ages of 3 and 17 have one or more developmental disabilities.