Disability Advocates On Edge After Cuts To Special Olympics, Other Programs
Funding cuts approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last weekend could spell the end to a Special Olympics initiative and shrink a handful of other disability programs, advocates say.
Under legislation approved Saturday by the House, spending on everything from supportive housing programs to Social Security would be slashed for the current fiscal year, which extends through September.
Meanwhile, money for a Special Olympics project that works to build inclusion and acceptance in schools would be eliminated. Officials at the organization say the initiative known as Project Unify will end if federal funding is cut off.
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“I couldn’t be any more concerned,” says Stephen Corbin, senior vice president for community impact at Special Olympics, of the fate of the three-year-old program that’s currently in 15,000 schools nationwide. “School environments are increasingly hostile to young people with differences. As we move toward inclusive education, this is a major impediment.”
Disability programs were dealt a mild reprieve, however, when the House averted a proposed $557.7 million cut to special education.
The House legislation comes as Congress works to complete a budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which began in October. Through a series of stop-gap measures, government programs are currently being funded at last year’s levels until March 4.
However, the Senate is unlikely to agree to the billions in spending cuts approved by the House, which could lead to a government shutdown.