This article was published on the Council for Exceptional Children on March 12, 2021.
On Thursday, the American Rescue Plan Act—a historic $1.9 trillion package that will send direct aid to individuals, families, education, state and local governments, and more—was signed into law by President Biden. The measure includes $125 billion for K-12 education that will allow districts to support any needs under all federal education laws, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The bill also includes $40 billion for higher education, and $100 million for education research, $7.2 billion for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (E-rate) to help close the homework gap, and $350 billion in state and local aid to shore up budgets that will impact state and local school funding.
Targeted Funding for IDEA
During Senate consideration of the American Rescue Plan Act, Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) sponsored an amendment that provides more than $2.5 million in state grants through IDEA Part B, $200 million for preschoolers with disabilities, and an additional $250 million for infants and toddlers under Part C.
According to the lawmakers, these funds targeted at IDEA are intended to help mitigate learning loss experienced by students with disabilities and help provide educational opportunities equal to their peers. The Senate champions have been pushing for targeted funding since July, when they introduced the CEC-endorsed Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act.
CEC’s advocacy effort on that measure resulted in roughly 10,000 letters sent to Congress, and hundreds of Hill meetings. We will continue to work with our champions in Congress to support infants, toddlers, children and youth with exceptionalities, and thank you for your continued engagement!