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What's Happening in Washington

People with Disabilities Need Accessible Transportation

Congress is debating legislation that will help create new options of public transportation for people with disabilities. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public transportation like public buses to be accessible, there are still many types of transportation that are not. For example, many subway stations that were constructed before the ADA are still only accessible by stairs, leaving them unusable by people who use wheelchairs.

Tell Congress to Extend Children’s Health Program!

Congress has the opportunity to pass legislation to continue the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for a full 4 years as part of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) bill that may be voted on by March 31, 2015. Nearly 10 million children of low-income working families receive health insurance through CHIP this year.

Every child deserves to get a healthy start in life and access to health insurance and appropriate health care is essential to that goal. Preserving and expanding safety-net programs such as CHIP for at-risk and low-income children of working families must continue to be available.

Please take action to help low income kids keep their health insurance.

Tell Congress: Continue to Fund Home Visiting!

Last spring, Congress passed a one-year extension of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV). The MIECHV program is currently set to expire on March 31, 2015.

This successful program was created in 2010 to improve health and developmental outcomes for children and families in vulnerable communities and is a great supplement to the federal programs that serve young children with disabilities. Congress needs to act now. If they don’t, states may stop enrolling families.

Easter Seals has joined with other organizations to share the importance of these programs with every Representative and Senator.

Educational and Parents Rights in Jeopardy

Congress is updating the federal elementary and secondary education law for the first time since 2002. Senate leaders are trying to negotiate a bipartisan bill. Two of the most important provisions for students with disabilities are on the table:

  1. Establishing boundaries on the number of children who can be taken off track for a standard high school diploma; and
  2. Ensuring that parents of children with disabilities are fully informed and give consent to any limitations placed on their child’s education.

Senators Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Bob Casey (Penn.) have introduced legislation that Easter Seals supports. Senator Chris Murphy's bill – Every Child Counts Act – ensures that only students with the most significant cognitive disabilities have their academic progress measured based on a different standard than their non-disabled peers. Senator Bob Casey's bill – Empowering Parents & Students Through Information Act – ensures that parents are fully informed about the standard to which their child's academic performance will be measured.

We need your voice to show the U.S. Senate there is broad support for these bills and the education of children with disabilities.

Current Legislative Alerts: Take Action!

Each day, decisions are being made in Washington, D.C., that will affect people with disabilities and Easter Seals' ability to provide services to them, as well as to meet Easter Seals' mission today and for years to come. The unmet needs of people with disabilities will continue to go unaddressed if Easter Seals is not engaged in educating public policy makers about people with disabilities' disproportionate reliance on government for health, education, employment, transportation and other needed services.

Legislative Landmarks

Easter Seals has been active in public policy advocacy since our founder, Edgar Allen, lobbied the Ohio Legislature to fund appropriate services for children with disabilities in the 1920s. We continue to actively support and promote federal legislation that helps people with disabilities achieve independence.

Public Policy Priorities for the 114th Congress

People with disabilities and Easter Seals have a significant stake in government programs. For many children and adults with disabilities, their ability to get an education, earn a living and live independently in the community is dictated by the availability of services and supports, many of which come only from the federal government.

Funding History of Federal Disability Programs, February 2015 (PDF*)

This chart, developed by Easter Seals Office of Public Affairs, tracks the funding history of federal disability programs. The chart divides the information by agency, listing underneath each agency specific programs that matter to children and adults with disabilities.

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