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

Dear DEC members, 

This week's YES DEC CAN! is being sent to every member as a special call to action over the recess. Many of you have asked how you can be involved in policy and advocacy efforts while members of Congress and Senators are home. 

We have also provided the resource: 3 Steps to Build and Maintain Relationships with Elected Officials

In terms of actions we suggest: 

1) Follow the 3 Steps to Build and Maintain Relationships with elected officials with one person. Remember you can be a powerful source of information to your member of Congress or Senator for information related to infants, toddlers, and young children with disabilities and their families.


2) Select one message to discuss with your member of Congress or Senator. 


Option A: Fully fund and protect IDEA

Option B: Protect ACA and maintain Medicaid as it is  an important funding source for IDEA services and health care for families.    

If you need more information on these topics visit our Great Policy Resources page.

Bottom line?  Please DO something! Don't waste the precious face to face time some of the town halls offer or an individual appointment could offer! You are the experts! Your members of Congress and Senators need you! Better yet, partner with a parent in your program and make the visit together. Personal stories are powerful! 

Good luck and keep us posted on your experiences! 

DEC Policy and Advocacy Team

Want to see more emails like this?  

The House Education and Workforce Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) finalized their members and subcommittees for the 115th Congress.  While the House page provides information on the full committee and subcommittees, you can view subcommittee information for help here

 On February 1st, two resolutions were introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to rescind federal regulations passed during the Obama administration addressing a) the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and b) teacher preparation programs. Both resolutions have passed the House and are now in the Senate, and it is reported that President Trump is likely to sign them. To that end, Secretary DeVos sent a letter to the Chief State School Officers on February 10th regarding the ESSA regulations to let them know states would not need to follow the Obama era regulations given the likelihood these would be rescinded and instead provided alternative guidance to support states in completing their state plans. 

 On Wednesday, February 8th the server hosting IDEA.ed.gov crashed and the resources on the website were unavailable for some time. DEC shared a statement we received from the Department of Education, as well as informed our membership about a letter Senators Patty Murray (WA) and Maria Cantwell (WA) sent to Secretary Betsy DeVos asking for a detailed plan for restoring the information. You can read the DEC update here. Then on February 17th, Secretary DeVos released a statement on the Department of Education website describing the steps the Department has taken to restore the website and indicated that the information has been moved to a new server at this time. Additionally, the Department plans to reach out to stakeholders for input regarding updating the website over time. You can read Devos' statement here

 On Friday, February 10th, Tom Price was confirmed as the 23rd U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services by a vote of 52-47 with the tie-breaking vote coming from Vice President (VP) Mike Pence. Most Democrats (n=45) and all Independents (n=2) voted no, while one Democrat abstained from voting (Senator Claire McCaskill, MO). All Senate Republicans voted to confirm Representative Price.

On Thursday, February 16th, a confirmation hearing to consider the nomination of Seema Verma to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was held within the Senate Finance Committee. A full senate vote on the nomination has not yet been scheduled.

 The President's Day recess for members of both houses of Congress runs from Monday, February 20th through Friday, February 24th. See the action alert in this eBrief!

Other updates, courtesy of the Council for Exceptional Children:


We are in the midst of the President's Day recess and your member of Congress and Senators are home in their districts through Friday, February 24th. During the recess many Members and Senators will be hosting opportunities to meet with their constituents. DEC, together with CEC, encourages our advocates to take advantage of these opportunities and schedule a meeting during this time frame! Be sure to review 3 Steps to Build and Maintain Relationships with Elected Officials on the Great Policy Resources page of the DEC website. 

Potential issues to address in conversation include:

Visit the Legislative Action Center and contact your member of Congress and Senators at their district office today to schedule a meeting! 

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.

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 Ashley Lyons, CAN Coordinator, and Sharon Walsh, our Governmental Relations Consultant, 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!  

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 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!