Feds Boost Spending On Special Ed, Disability Programs
With funding gains for special education, housing and other disability programs, advocates say the federal government’s latest budget is a step in the right direction.
The $1.1 trillion plan lawmakers approved last month boosts spending – at least a little bit – for most federal government programs that touch the lives of people with disabilities.
Most of the gains are modest especially when spread across 50 states, advocates say, but after years of cutbacks, any rise is a good sign.
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“Certainly we’re happy to have any increase at all, but it’s not what you would call dramatic,” said Annie Acosta, director of fiscal and family support policy at The Arc.
“It’s starting to restore the chipping away that’s been happening since 2010,” Acosta said of the latest federal budget, which outlines government spending through September.
Specifically, the plan calls for an additional $16 million for housing for people with disabilities and increases at Social Security to improve its administrative services. The government’s respite care initiative and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s developmental disabilities efforts will also see more money.
Meanwhile, funding to states under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for school-age children is up $415 million.
Lindsay Jones, vice president and chief policy and advocacy officer at the National Center for Learning Disabilities, said that the uptick is relatively small compared to total spending on special education programs and will likely have a limited effect.
“A cut would have been incredibly felt,” Jones said. “We definitely needed the increase, but it’s definitely nowhere near fully funding IDEA.