Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has written the chair and ranking Democrat of the Senate Appropriations Committee:
Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray,
I write today on behalf of children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities to urge you to increase funding for Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This program serves one of our country’s most vulnerable populations, yet has never received full funding. Children living with autism and other developmental disabilities have the right to receive the high-quality, comprehensive range of services provided by IDEA.
As you know, the majority of educational services provided to children with developmental disabilities fall under IDEA Part B. This program authorizes grants to states based on the state’s number of children between ages 3-21 and the number of children within that age range living in poverty. When passed into law, Congress authorized IDEA funding equal to 40 percent of the national average per pupil expenditure (APPE) multiplied by the number of children with disabilities served. Unfortunately, IDEA has never received the full appropriation to help ensure that children and families receiving services and supports thrive.
In Fiscal Year 2016, federal funding for IDEA Part B only covered 16 percent of APPE. This means that appropriations fell short of the full funding by approximately $17.85 billion dollars. As the full funding estimate continues to rise, it is critical that we work to close the gap between this and the annual appropriation.
It is important that educational services and resources are available for families and children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities.
Unfortunately the ongoing lack of funding for IDEA does not reflect the current need for services. A recent report issued by the Office of Autism Research Coordination and the Interagency Autism Coordination Committee found that only about seven percent of funding for autism research went to the development of services and less than one percent of research funding went to issues that follow people with autism throughout their lifetime.
In order for our nation’s children to thrive, we must invest in services that set them up for success. For this reason, I urge you to decrease the funding gap between the estimated need and the actual funding by increasing appropriations for IDEA Part B. I know you have been working on these issues for some time and I appreciate the opportunity to work with you in supporting this critical funding situation.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator