Representatives Huffman, DeSaulnier, and Davis Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Protect and Support Children with Disabilities

February 01, 2022

Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), and Rodney Davis (R-IL), and U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced the Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act (H.R. 6532), a bipartisan, bicameral bill to restore full funding for educational and early-intervention services for children with disabilities.

Children and families’ need for early intervention and pre-school special education services has only increased over the past several decades. However, federal investments have not kept pace with the number of students requiring these services. Programs funded through Part B, Section 619 and Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act - which assist states with early intervention services for children with disabilities ages 3-5 and 0-3, respectively - are woefully underfunded, despite high demand for the services these programs provide. The Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act or (H.R. 6532) would assist states in providing this critical support by bringing funding for these programs back to where it belongs.

“Our nation’s children with disabilities deserve every opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive in their schools and communities. Through IDEA, our federal government plays an important role in supporting these children in the earliest stages of life to help them gain the skills needed for future success in education, independent living, and participating in and contributing to society,” said Rep. Huffman. “Early intervention and continuous support for children with disabilities is essential to their development, and I am working to expand the reach of these important services. Congress can and must do more to help the drastically unmet needs of these children and their families, beginning with the bill we have introduced today.”

“One of the most important things we can do to support children with disabilities and their families is ensure that every child has equal access to high quality early childhood and educational services that will set them on the path for success in education and developmental outcomes,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “I am proud to partner with my colleagues in the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle in introducing the Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act to ensure that the programs that promote inclusive, quality education for infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities have the resources they need.”

“We know that early childhood intervention programs are proven to improve learning and growth in young children with disabilities and developmental delays,” said Rep. Davis. “Federal support for these programs has not matched the growth in need, leaving them woefully underfunded. That’s why I’m excited to again introduce the ‘Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act’ with my colleague Congressman DeSaulnier. Our bill will bring us closer to fully funding IDEA programs and supporting the children those programs serve.”

“For children who experience disabilities, early intervention is critical to give them the tools and resources that they need to succeed as they grow,” said Senator Hassan. “Yet, the current funding does not meet the demand from families across the country who are struggling to access these resources. Closing this funding gap is about making sure that all infants and toddlers are fully included and thrive.”

The complete list of supporting organizations includes: All4Ed, American Federation of Teachers, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association, American Psychological Association, American Speech-Language Hearing Association, Assistive Technology Industry Association, Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, Association of California School Administrators, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Autism Society of America, Autism Speaks, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, California School Boards Association, Center for Law and Social Public Policy, Center for Learner Equity, Child Care Law Center, Coalition for Adequate Funding for Special Education, CommunicationFIRST, Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf, Council for Exceptional Children, Council for Learning Disabilities, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Cure SMA, Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, Division for Learning Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children (DLD), Early Edge California, Early On Michigan Foundation, Easterseals, Educare Learning Network, First Five CA, First Five LA, First Five Years Fund, Higher Education Consortium of Special Education (HECSE), IDEA Infant Toddler Coordinators Association, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Los Angeles Unified School District, Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), Michigan Division for Early Childhood, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Disability Rights Network, National Head Start Association, National Organization for Women (NOW), National Parent Teacher Association, National PLACE, National Women's Law Center, Nemours Children's Health, Parent to Parent of Georgia, Parents as Teachers, RespectAbility, San Diego Unified School District, Start Early, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, The Advocacy Institute, The Arc of the United States, The Early Care and Education Consortium, The National Down Syndrome Congress, The Superintendents Association (AASA), Unite-LA, ZERO TO THREE.