The 115th Congress is coming to an end in December and members of Congress are thinking about which issues they want to work on in  the next session, which begins in January 2019. So far, we’ve seen an increased interest in two bills that NCLD has supported from advocates and the media recently and it’s likely they’ll be reintroduced next year.

The Keeping All Students Safe Act, introduced by Senators Chris Murphy and Patty Murray, as well as Reps. Bobby Scott (VA-03) and Don Beyer (VA-08), would make it illegal for any school receiving federal funds to place a child in seclusion. The bill would also prohibit schools from physically restraining children, except when necessary to protect students and staff. Finally, it would better equip school personnel with the training they need to address challenging behavior with evidence-based, proactive strategies. As highlighted by NBC News, a 13-year-old student with Autism is leading the charge to get this federal law passed. Students with disabilities are disproportionately restrained and secluded in our public schools. According to the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Data Collection, of the 122,000 students that were restrained or secluded in the 2015-2016 school year, students with disabilities (IDEA) represented 71 percent of all students restrained and 66 percent of all students secluded.

Another bill getting renewed attention is the Child Care for Working Families Act. This bill would create a federal-state partnership that would allow families making less than 150 percent of their state’s median income to pay no more than 7 percent of their income on child care. It would also seek to boost wages and training for early childhood workers and improve access to preschool programs for low- and moderate-income 3- and 4-year-olds. The bill was highlighted in a recent report by the Center for American Progress titled “Understanding the True Cost of Child Care for Infants and Toddlers” and the authors state that further investment is needed to address chronically low funding in the child care system. Studies have shown that kids in high quality child care are more likely to have improved health outcomes, increased future earnings, and reduced crime rates, meaning each dollar spent on early childhood programs is paid back several times over.¹ The bill also seeks to build more inclusive, high-quality child care providers for children with disabilities, and infants and toddlers with disabilities, including by increasing funding for IDEA.

These two bills are priorities for Rep. Scott, who is set to take over as the Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, which has oversight of issues related to child care and restraint and seclusion in schools. NCLD will continue to support these two pieces of legislation in the next Congress and we will need you to speak out! Together, we can tell Congress that these laws are needed to improve the lives of children with disabilities. Be sure to sign up for emails from NCLD so you don’t miss any  information on how to get involved. You can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

1.García, J. L., Heckman, J. J., Leaf, D. E., & Prados, M. J. (2017). Quantifying the life-cycle benefits of a prototypical early childhood program (No. w23479). National Bureau of Economic Research.

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