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

Stay tuned for next steps on contacting Congress about the FY 2018 budget and contact your Senators regarding the AHCA.

 Please continue to share our message of #WeBelieve in inclusion and the civil rights of all children and youth with disabilities and their families across social media.

You can also tweet your Senators or tweet your Representatives.

WHAT'S
HAPPENING
IN
WASHINGTON

On May 23rd, the Trump Administration released the federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2018 budget request and it contains significant cuts to education, Medicaid, and other programs that support young children with disabilities and their families. Titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness”, the budget addresses the one year period beginning October 1, 2017. In specific, the budget proposes increasing defense spending by $54 billion and offsetting it by $54 billion in cuts to non-defense programs in order to bolster the “safety and security of the American people” and to provide “a specific, aggressive set of program elimination, reduction, and saving proposals that redefine the proper role of the Federal Government, and curtail programs that fall short on results or provide little return to the American people” (Budget, page 12). The budget suggests implementing a “2-penny plan” that would cut non-defense programs by 2% annually in order to balance the budget over the next 10 years.

The budget aims to reduce Medicaid spending by $610 billion over a decade, with the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funded through 2019 but seeing reductions into the future as well. With respect to Medicaid, the budget proposes allowing states to choose between a per capita allotment or a block grant with the stated goal of increasing state flexibility. The budget cuts Education by $9.2 billion, accounting for a 13.5% reduction compared to the 2017 continuing resolution (CR). Special education programs under IDEA would be level-funded as compared to the 2017 CR, though future reductions each year are possible as IDEA is a discretionary non-defense program. The Javits Gifted and Talented Education, Special Olympics programs, and (general) Preschool Development grants are among 22 Department of Education programs proposed for elimination altogether. 

In the Department of Health and Human Services, the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant gets a net $30 million increase, which includes a $28 million increase for Home Visiting and a $10 million increase for Healthy Start but the elimination of Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and programs targeting Autism and other Developmental Disorders; it cuts $5.7 billion from the National Institutes for Health (NIH); a $17 million increase to Head Start and a $5 million increase to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (both of which are funded at the FFY 2016 level which is a cut from the 2017 CR); and roughly level-funding to Child Care in general. In the Social Security Administration (SSA), a $70 billion cut over the next decade is proposed for the Social Security Disability Program.

The budget proposal still requires Congressional approval, and it is currently getting a lukewarm reception from the President’s party. DEC will release a more thorough analysis of the Administration’s budget proposal next week, as well as more concrete actions you can take to talk with your members of Congress about the importance of so many of these programs suggested for reduction, elimination, or cuts.   

Other updates, courtesy of the Council for Exceptional Children:

DEC Policy & Advocacy News
Reminder: The DEC Policy website now has a repository of past and significant Advocacy Letters written or signed on by the organization. The page includes letters sent to Congress, government agencies, and cabinet members. DEC’s Priority Recommendations to the Trump Administration and the 115th Congress, delivered directly to new Secretary DeVos, can be found here.   
UPCOMING DEC POLICY & ADVOCACY EVENTS
  • REMINDER: The next DEC advocacy webinar will be Friday May 26th from 12:30pm-1:30pm EDT. The webinar will focus on DEC’s new policy and advocacy structure, and how Subdivision CAN fits into this. Monthly “drop-in” hours for CAN Coordinators will be discussed, as well as opportunities for Subdivisions to work with national CAN to address state-specific issues. Not a CAN Coordinator? No problem! Join us to learn more about the purpose of CAN and what you can do to get involved. Register here to attend.
  • Beginning in June, there will be two DEC Subdivision CAN “drop-in” hours available to current CAN Coordinators, Subdivision leadership, and/or interested members. Potential uses of drop-in hours will be discussed further during the May 26th webinar. Call-in information will be provided at a later date. The tentative schedule for 2017 is as follows:
      o June 13th 12pm-1pm ET (2nd Tuesday)
      o June 29th 5pm-6pm ET (4th Thursday)
      o July 11th 12pm-1pm ET (2nd Tuesday)
      o July 27th 5pm-6pm ET (4th Thursday) 
      o August 8th 12pm-1pm ET (2nd Tuesday)
      o August 24th 5pm-6pm ET (4th Thursday)
      o September 12th 12pm-1pm ET (2nd Tuesday)
      o September 28th 5pm-6pm ET (4th Thursday)
      o October 10th 12pm-1pm ET (2nd Tuesday)
      o October 26th 5pm-6pm ET (4th Thursday)
      o November 14th 12pm-1pm ET (2nd Tuesday)
      o November 30th 5pm-6pm ET (5th Thursday, as the 4th is a holiday)
      o December 12th 12pm-1pm ET (2nd Tuesday)
      o December 28th 5pm-6pm ET (4th Thursday)   
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!