WASHINGTON—As the U.S. Senate prepares for a debate on additional COVID-19 relief, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), both members of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), highlighted growing support for their legislation to increase funding for students with disabilities. The Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act appropriates $11 billion for state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), $1.2 billion for early childhood education programs, $55 million under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, and requires recipients of funds to report to Congress how this money is spent. The Senators are also calling for $430 billion to support child care, K-12 schools, and higher education.

“As COVID-19 cases spike across the country, families are faced with increasing uncertainty about what school will look like for their kids this fall. I’m concerned about the impact this has had on kids, but especially those with disabilities, and it’s on Congress to provide resources needed to support them,” said Murphy. “Senators Hassan, Van Hollen, and I have legislation to do just that, and we’ll be pushing for it to be included in the stimulus package Congress is debating right now. Now is the time to strengthen our commitment to children with disabilities. I’m grateful to have the support of so many committed advocates as we fight to make sure no kid is left behind.”

“The transition to remote learning has strained students, parents, and teachers, all of whom are doing their best to adjust to a challenging new system for learning,” said Hassan. “This adjustment can be even more difficult for students with disabilities, which is why we are calling for substantial additional funding in the next package to support all students, including dedicated funding to support the unique needs of students who experience disabilities. I want to thank all of the advocates who are working hard to ensure that every student has access to a high-quality education, and I will keep fighting to ensure that the next package has the funding necessary to meet the needs of all students.”  

“It’s long past time for Congress to make good on its commitment to provide full federal funding to ensure all students with disabilities receive a quality education. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated school funding shortages across the country, making the need for these funds all the more urgent.  The Congress must both fully invest in IDEA long-term, and act now to provide emergency relief,” said Van Hollen.

Below is a roundup of support for Murphy and Hassan’s effort to ensure any future COVID-19 relief package provides additional funding for students with disabilities:

Denise Marshall, CEO, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates: "The Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID–19 Act (S.4100) delivers on the promise to specifically fund IDEA as well as increase resources for state assistive technology programs during the pandemic. It must be included in the next stimulus bill to help ensure that students with disabilities can receive a free, appropriate public education as required by the law; support teachers and personnel essential to delivering special education services; and, promote collaboration between schools and families so that students can effectively receive specially designed instruction, therapies, services, assistive technology and other supports as determined by the child’s Individualized Education Program or 504 plan."

Dr. Jenn Lesh, President, Council for Exceptional Children: "Emergency funding for IDEA is critical to our educators, who have been working harder than ever to support ongoing services for infants, toddlers, children and youth with exceptionalities. The more we learn about how devastating this pandemic is to our students and our workforce, the more critical targeted funding for IDEA becomes."

IDEA Full Funding Coalition: "The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been underfunded for decades, and no time has it been more apparent than now, during the COVID-19 pandemic. As our public schools and districts work hard to serve all students, we recognize that students with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted by this crisis. We thank Senator Murphy, Senator Hassan, and Senator Van Hollen for their leadership in introducing the Supporting Children with Disabilities during COVID-19 Act, which would provide emergency IDEA funding that is essential to providing equitable educational opportunities to every child with a disability."

National Disability Rights Network: “NDRN applauds Senators Hassan, Murphy, and Van Hollen for introducing S. 4100, the Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act.  Dedicated funds for the IDEA in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill are of paramount importance. Given the dire forecast for many state budgets coupled with the enormous economic pressure that districts will face as the 2020-2021 school year begins, it is critical that, as districts and schools work hard to ensure the rights of students served under IDEA upheld, they have the dedicated funds to do so.”

Lindsay Jones, President & CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities: "In this ever-changing crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is certain: schools need additional funds to meet the growing needs of students with disabilities who have been uniquely impacted. NCLD is grateful for the leadership of Senators Murphy, Hassan and Van Hollen and their introduction of the Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act which would provide much needed relief to public schools. Congress must recognize the importance of serving our most marginalized students and demonstrate its commitment to students with disabilities by passing this emergency funding bill. Our nation's students and educators are depending on it."

Lauren Morando Rhim, Executive Director and Co-Founder, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools: "Funding is needed to help states and districts work with school teams and parents to make decisions about providing special education services and support to students with disabilities. We thank Senators Murphy, Hassan, and Van Hollen for their commitment to ensuring schools will have the resources to educate students with disabilities and urge the Senate to include S.4100 in the final stimulus package."

Audrey Busch, Executive Director, Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs: “On behalf of the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, who represent State Assistive Technology Act Programs across the nation, we strongly support this bill to ensure that those who are most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic are able to access and acquire the proper assistive technology by providing funding for the Assistive Technology (AT) Act. We urge Congress to include this bill in the next stimulus package so children with disabilities have access to the assistive technology needed during this global health crisis.” 

Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN): "The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is proud to support the Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act. Autistic students, like many students with disabilities, have faced extraordinary barriers to accessing their legal right to an education during the pandemic. For many students, particularly students with complex communication needs and students with the most significant intellectual disabilities, virtual schooling has never been made accessible. This bill will help remedy that by providing schools with resources to craft flexible, individualized services to meet our community's needs, implement IEPs, and fulfill their obligation to provide every student with a free and appropriate public education--no matter the circumstances."

Peter Berns, Chief Executive Officer, The Arc of the United States: "Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities are facing extraordinary and disproportionate challenges during the Covid pandemic.  Many acutely feel the loss of routine and social isolation brought about by distance education and the reduction of service hours.  The Arc greatly appreciates the Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act sponsored by Senators Murphy, Hassan, and Van Hollen that will help these students to gain lost ground and meet their learning goals by providing desperately needed relief for special education programs and services across the country."

The legislation has been endorsed by:

  • AASA, The School Superintendents Association 
  • American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
  • Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs
  • American Federation of State. County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 
  • American Federation of Teachers 
  • American Music Therapy Association
  • American Occupational Therapy Association 
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) 
  • Association of Educational Service Agencies 
  • Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) 
  • Autism Society of America 
  • Autism Speaks
  • Council of Administrators of Special Education 
  • Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates  
  • Higher Education Consortium for Special Education
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America
  • National Alliance of Specialized Instructional Support Personnel 
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals 
  • National Association of School Psychologists National Association of Secondary School Principals 
  • National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) 
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities
  • National Consortium for Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities  
  • National Disability Rights Network
  • National Down Syndrome Congress 
  • National PTA 
  • National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium 
  • National Rural Education Association 
  • Special Olympics International
  • The Arc of the United States
  • The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Education Taskforce

In addition to Murphy, Hassan and Van Hollen the Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act is co-sponsored by: Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.),  Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)