A government advisory panel wants the Obama administration to do more to address the use of restraint and seclusion among people with disabilities.

In a letter that the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, or IACC, agreed to send Wednesday, the group is asking U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to coordinate with federal education and justice officials on the use of the controversial practices in schools and other settings.

Specifically, the IACC is urging Sebelius to work with her counterparts to establish regulations, increase data collection and promote alternatives, among other steps.

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“The use of seclusion and restraint in every setting is a critical issue for people with (autism) and other disabilities and their families that requires immediate federal attention,” the IACC letter reads.

The IACC is an advisory committee established by the Combating Autism Act of 2006 that’s comprised of government officials and members of the autism community. The group provides recommendations to federal agencies and establishes priorities for government-funded autism research.

In May, the committee heard from numerous stakeholders about the use of restraint and seclusion among people with disabilities. The letter to Sebelius comes in response to concerns that emerged during that meeting. (Read all of Disability Scoop’s coverage of restraint and seclusion >>)

While there are some federal regulations limiting the use of restraint and seclusion in certain residential settings, a patchwork of inconsistent state and local rules govern the practices in schools across the country.

Last year, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would have established national standards for schools, but the bill was never considered by the Senate and a similar proposal this year has not progressed.

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