A bi-weekly e-brief of the DEC Children's Action Network
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Call to Action

 DEC and CEC are concerned with the Medicaid refinancing proposal that the House Energy and Commerce Committee is considering. It jeopardizes health care for the nation’s most vulnerable children: children with disabilities, children in poverty, and infants and toddlers. Children who receive early intervention services through Part C of IDEA would be particularly affected, as Medicaid is a preferred payer for such services prior to the use of IDEA funds Specifically, a per capita allotment system for states will undermine state’s ability to provide America’s neediest children access to vital health care that ensure they have adequate educational and developmental opportunities and can contribute to society. Contact your members of Congress TODAY to ask them to carefully consider the important benefits that Medicaid, as it is currently structured, provides to our nation's' most vulnerable children. 

  From CEC: The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to overturn the U.S. Department of Education’s regulation implementing Every Student Succeeds Act’s (ESSA) core requirement that schools be held accountable for the performance of historically marginalized students, including students with disabilities. Congress has never before voted to overturn an education regulation. The Department issued this regulation after the public, including both educators and students and their families, filed over 21,000 comments. The Senate will vote soon on whether to follow the House and overturn the regulation. We ask you to write your Senators today to vote “no” and protect all students and particularly those with disabilities.

 From the CEC Policy Insider: The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) recently released this Preschool Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Dear Colleague Letter, which reaffirms that all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs where they are provided with individualized and appropriate supports to enable them to meet high expectations. The letter covers: key statutory and regulatory requirements; preschool placement options; reporting educational environments data for preschool children with disabilities; and the use of IDEA Part B funds for preschool children with disabilities. Much of the information provided is reaffirming guidance from the past but new clarification is provided around definitions, data collection, and funding.

On March 2nd, the Senate Finance Committee voted 13-12 in favor of advancing the nomination of Seema Verma to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A full senate vote on the nomination has not yet been scheduled. 

H.R. 610 “Choices in Education Act 2017” was introduced to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The bill seeks to repeal the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, limit the authority of the Department of Education (ED) so that ED would exist only to award block grants to qualified states, and to repeal a rule under the No Hungry Kids Act that established nutrition standards in school breakfast and lunch programs. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Steve Kin (R-IA) and co-sponsored by Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD), Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Pete Olson (R-TX). While the bill was introduced in January, it has been given some media attention in recent weeks. The bill has not been heard by the committee and no action has been taken. At this time, it is unlikely to be approved, if not advanced for committee action. 

Other updates, courtesy of the Council for Exceptional Children:

DEC Policy & Advocacy News
 If you haven’t already, check out our new policy and advocacy structure Barbara Smith will head the new DEC Policy and Advocacy Council leadership team, which will be joined by Michael Barla as team lead for policy and Kimberly Sopko as team lead for advocacy. These new team members join Peggy Kemp (Executive Director), Ben Rogers (Associate Director), Sharon Walsh (Governmental Relations Consultant), and Ashley Lyons (CAN Coordinator) to form a powerful group of leaders, spearheading DEC's policy and advocacy efforts.  But your voices as DEC members are the most important part of that structure!   Be ready, as hearings, votes and comment opportunities will likely be scheduled as soon this month!
  • The meeting schedule for the Policy Council in 2017 will be determined by the incoming Chair and will be posted when available. Quarterly advocacy webinar dates will also be announced soon. 

Have an early childhood special education or early intervention policy or advocacy story you would like to share? Whether you are a Subdivision leader/member or just an interested DEC member unaffiliated with a Subdivision, contact  brittany@dec-sped.org or DEC CAN Coordinator anlyons@kent.edu  to share what's happening in your state or Subdivision or just to bring awareness to an important policy or advocacy issue relevant to DEC. 

Please note that all story submissions must be non-partisan in nature. If you are interested in guidance on how to craft your story and/or how to ensure it is non-partisan, DEC will be happy to help! Selected stories will be shared in a future issue of YES DEC CAN!