Washington, DC - May 12, 2016 - Today, U.S Senator Charles E. Schumer called for full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which helps provide special education and related services to millions of children with autism and other developmental disabilities across the country. Specifically, this act provides funds to state and public agencies in order to address all needs related to the country’s most vulnerable populations.
Despite the need for these funds, Schumer today explained that IDEA has never received a full appropriation. In fact, in Fiscal Year 2016, federal funding for IDEA Part B, which provides special educational services to children, fell short by approximately $17.85 billion.
Moreover, 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-related services. As a result, Schumer is urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to take action by providing full funding for IDEA, and help make sure states, like New York, have the federal funding they need to provide critical services to children with developmental disabilities.
“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,” said Senator Schumer. “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.”
Schumer said that millions of children across the country live with developmental and other disabilities and rely on funding for special education services to prepare them for a successful transition into adulthood.
According to the CDC, 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 and17 years have one or more developmental disabilities.
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 between 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 (APPE) 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, meaning that appropriations fell short of the full funding by approximately $17.85 billion dollars.
A recently published report issued by the Office of Autism Research Coordination and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, 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.
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 of the funds went towards researching the biology of autism and 17 percent went towards researching its risk factors.
Schumer acknowledges that learning more about the biology of autism is extremely important to finding medical treatment, however, the federal government must also prioritize funding for services that help children with autism and other developmental disabilities live each day to their fullest.
A copy of Schumer’s letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee is below:
Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray,
I write today on behalf of children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities to urge you to increase funding for Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This program serves one of our country’s most vulnerable populations, yet has never received full funding. Children living with autism and other developmental disabilities have the right to receive the high-quality, comprehensive range of services provided by IDEA.
As you know, the majority of educational services provided to children with developmental disabilities fall under IDEA Part B. This program authorizes grants to states based on the state’s number of children between ages 3-21 and the number of children within that age range living in poverty. When passed into law, Congress authorized IDEA funding equal to 40 percent of the national average per pupil expenditure (APPE) multiplied by the number of children with disabilities served. Unfortunately, IDEA has never received the full appropriation to help ensure that children and families receiving services and supports thrive.
In Fiscal Year 2016, federal funding for IDEA Part B only covered 16 percent of APPE. This means that appropriations fell short of the full funding by approximately $17.85 billion dollars. As the full funding estimate continues to rise, it is critical that we work to close the gap between this and the annual appropriation.
It is important that educational services and resources are available for families and children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. Unfortunately the ongoing lack of funding for IDEA does not reflect the current need for services. A recent report issued by the Office of Autism Research Coordination and the Interagency Autism Coordination Committee found that only about seven percent of funding for autism research went to the development of services and less than one percent of research funding went to issues that follow people with autism throughout their lifetime.
In order for our nation’s children to thrive, we must invest in services that set them up for success. For this reason, I urge you to decrease the funding gap between the estimated need and the actual funding by increasing appropriations for IDEA Part B. I know you have been working on these issues for some time and I appreciate the opportunity to work with you in supporting this critical funding situation.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator