Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District: Students With Disabilities and “Meaningful” Education

January 11, 2016 marked a momentous day for individuals with disabilities throughout the United States with the Supreme Court hearing arguments for Endrew v. Douglas County School District. The debate revolves around the interpretation of the 1982 Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley case, relating to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1975 (IDEA).

A family in Colorado and their son Endrew argue that IDEA was intended to provide children with disabilities the access to a meaningful education which also allows for “significant educational progress.” The school district, however, interprets that IDEA has no set standard, and simply ensures that the child receives personalized education which is sufficient (i.e. “merely more than de minimus”). Endrew’s family is concerned that the Douglas County school district did not offer adequate resources for children with disabilities to achieve. After Endrew completed the fourth grade in the Douglas County School District accompanied by his Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), his parents disagreed with the proposed IEP for his fifth year and made the decision to put him in a private school. Endrew and his parents argued that he was not being sufficiently provided a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE), as mandated by the IDEA, and were seeking reimbursement for the tuition of his private school.

Although Endrew and his family lost this case, over the course of administrative hearings and lower court cases, the family and the school district have been arguing over the measure of “some academic progress” and whether the district must meet a “merely more than de minimus” requirement. The federal government supports Endrew and his parents, drawing on Rowley which indicated that a FAPE must provide meaningful access to education which is much higher than “merely more than de minimus.”

Through the course of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. summarized that the main issue at hand is whether or not IDEA places emphasis on the word “some” or the word “benefit” in the phrase “some benefit”, each resulting in both contrasting and notable meanings that has manifested into the current argument: Providing some benefit would achieve the goals of the school district in distributing education that is merely better than nothing; whereas providing some benefit implies that the education be meaningful and allow for academic progress, which Endrew and his parents seek. Justice Elena Kagan also reminded the school district’s attorney of the precedents set in previous cases in which “some benefit” was repeatedly intended to have “some bite.”

The outcome of the Court’s decision will define the quality of education for students with disabilities for years to come. Those interested in following the case, can find a copy of the transcript from this week’s arguments here. United Cerebral Palsy, along with other organizations, has signed to an amicus brief which can be viewed here. We will continue to monitor this case, and will be interested to see how the Court decides.

UCP Remembers Jack Schillinger

Gloria_Jack

On January 4, 2017, UCP lost a great friend, volunteer, supporter, leader and advisor with the passing of Jack Schillinger at the age of 96. Jack was the “face” of the Bellows Committee that he Chaired until recently, was Chair of the UCP Board of Directors in 1991, and was member of the Finance Committee for many years. In 2015, UCP honored Jack with the Chair Award at the Annual Conference in Chicago.

Jack was a huge part of UCP, since 1955,
and we can never thank him enough for his dedication to UCP and to the lives of people with disabilities.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time. Jack’s obituary can be found within his guest book. To add a note of sympathy, give your condolences to the family, and to share your memories of Jack, please visit the Guest Book.

UCP and the National Council on Disability – “First Responders and Disability”

On December 9, 2016, UCP and the National Council on Disability joined together to host a day of conversation surrounding first responders and the disability community. Bringing together diverse perspectives from across the country, the day was a raw and honest look at the way law enforcement and other members of the first responder community interact with those living with disabilities.

Watch the footage (captioned) below:

 

View the Program Agenda

 

We’re Partnering With The Mighty!

We’re thrilled to announce a new partnership that will bring United Cerebral Palsy’s resources to the front of The Mighty‘s wide-reaching readership. We will now  have a growing home page on The Mighty , and appear on many stories on the site, allowing us to get many more people involved with our organization.

The Mighty is a story-based health community focused on improving the lives of people facing disease, disorder, mental illness, and disability. It is estimated that 764,000 children and adults in the U.S. manifest one or more of the symptoms of cerebral palsy, and that 1 in 5 Americans live with some form of disability. They want more than information. They want to be inspired. The Mighty publishes real stories about real people facing real challenges.

We’re dedicated to providing comprehensive support and community for children and adults living with cerebral palsy, as well as other disabilities, and their families. With this partnership, we’ll be able to help even more people.

We encourage you to submit a story to The Mighty and make your voice heard.

Here’s an example of the kind of stories you’ll find on The Mighty: Tommy Hilfiger Launches Adaptive Collection for Children With Disabilities

Share Your Photos for UCP’s “Halloween Without Limits”!

It’s that time of year again! It’s time for UCP’s “Halloween Without Limits.” From now until October 31st, share your most creative costume photos and show us how you celebrate a “Halloween Without Limits”! We want to see your style and how you make Halloween your own!

UCP’s “Halloween Without Limits” is open to all ages, children and adults alike, who get into the Halloween spirit. We invite parents and individuals with disabilities to share their most creative, kooky and fun costumes to our Facebook page by tagging @UnitedCerebralPalsy and using the hashtag #HalloweenWithoutLimits. It doesn’t matter if you’re a princess or a hero, a ghost or a ghoul, as long as you have gone the extra mile to accommodate a disability.

Photos of children under the age of 18 MUST be submitted by a parent or guardian.

The rules are simple:

All you have to do is post your photos to UCP’s Facebook page using #HalloweenWithoutLimits or #HWL so we can all see them!

Check out photos from last year! 

We can’t wait to see your photos!

HalloweenWL 2016

UCP Releases 2016 Case for Inclusion Report

 

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For Inquiries: Kaitlyn Meuser, kmeuser@ucp.org, 202-973-7185

UNITED CEREBRAL PALSY RELEASES STATE RANKINGS ON SERVICES FOR AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES

Arizona, Vermont, New Hampshire, Michigan & Hawaii Top 2016 List

Washington, D.C. (September 20, 2016) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) released the 2016 Case for Inclusion today, an annual report and interactive website used to track state-by-state community living standards for Americans living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD).

The Case for Inclusion examines data and outcomes for all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC), ranking each on a set of key indicators, including how people with disabilities live and participate in their communities, if they are satisfied with their lives, and how easily the services and supports they need are accessed. By taking these factors into account, UCP is able to publish this comprehensive analysis of each state’s progress or failures in providing critical services to individuals living with disabilities.

In addition to rankings, the report digs deeper into two critical issues facing people with disabilities and their families: waiting lists for services as well as support for the transition from high school into an adult life in the community. Two case studies examine how states are approaching those issues.

Since 2006, the rankings have enabled families, advocates, the media and policymakers to measure each state’s progress — or lack of improvement — and gain insight into how the highest-ranking states are achieving their success. To enhance the usability of the report, UCP publishes tables of the data from which the report was compiled on an interactive website where visitors can compare and contrast results among selected states.

“Ultimately, the goal of this research is to promote inclusion and enhance the quality of life for all Americans,” said Richard Forkosh, Interim President/CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “UCP is committed to shining a light on how well states are actually serving people with disabilities and, by extension, their families and communities. Also, we want to underscore the national context for this data so that stakeholders can use this information to drive progress.”

“For more than a decade, UCP has ranked states to showcase the good and to highlight what needs improvement. The fact is real progress is being made. More Americans with ID/DD are living in the community rather than being isolated in large state institutions. But much more work needs to be done to reduce waiting lists, increase employment and expand support to families. This annual ranking clearly shows the true picture of what’s happening and what should be happening in the states for our friends and neighbors with ID/DD,” stated Tarren Bragdon, the report’s author since 2006.

To download and read the entire Case for Inclusion report, or explore the data tables, visit cfi.ucp.org.

Significant Takeaways from the 2016 Rankings

Promoting Independence

1. All states still have room for improvement, but some states have consistently remained at the bottom since 2007, including Arkansas (#49), Illinois (#47), Mississippi (#51) and Texas (#50) primarily due to the small portion of people and resources dedicated to those in small or home-like settings in these four states.

2. 32 states, same as last year, meet the 80/80 Home and Community Standard, which means that at least 80 percent of all individuals with ID/DD are served in the community and 80 percent of all resources spent on those with ID/DD are for home (less than 7 residents per setting) and community support. Those that do not meet the 80/80 standard are: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia. Connecticut is very close (with 79% spent on HCBS).

3. As of 2014, 15 states report having no state institutions to seclude those with ID/DD, including: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. Another 9 States have only one institution each (Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming). Since 1960, 205 of 354 state institutions have been closed, according to the University of Minnesota’s Research and Training Center on Community Living.

4. 27 states, up from 26, now report meeting the 80 percent Home-Like Setting standard, which means that at least 80 percent of all individuals with ID/DD are served in settings such as their own home, a family home, family foster care or small group settings like shared apartments with fewer than four residents. The U.S. average for this standard is 80 percent. Just eleven (up from 8) States meet a top-performing 90 percent Home-like Setting standard: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, D.C., Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

5. Fifteen states, up from ten last year, report at least 10 percent of individuals using self-directed services, according to the National Core Indicators survey in 36 states. Five states report at least 20 percent being self-directed. These states include: Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, Utah and Vermont.

Tracking Health, Safety and Quality of Life

6. 47 states, up from 42 last year, participate in the National Core Indicators (NCI) survey, a comprehensive quality-assurance program that includes standard measurements to assess outcomes of services. A total of 36 states, up from 29 last year, reported data outcomes in 2015.

Keeping Families Together

7. Only 15 states, up from 14 last year, report that they are supporting a large share of families through family support (at least 200 families per 100,000 of population). These support services provide assistance to families that are caring for children with disabilities at home, which helps keep families together, and people with disabilities living in a community setting. These family-focused state programs were in: Arizona, California, Delaware, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Promoting Productivity

8. 10 states, up from 8 last year, report having at least 33 percent of individuals with ID/DD working in competitive employment. These states include: Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

9. 15 states report successfully placing at least 60 percent of individuals in vocational rehabilitation in jobs, with nineteen states reporting the average number of hours worked for those individuals placed being at least 25 hours and four states reporting at least half of those served getting a job within one year. No states met the standard on all three success measures.

Serving Those in Need

10. Waiting lists for residential and community services are high and show the unmet need. Almost 350,000 people, 28,000 more than last year, are on a waiting list for Home and Community-Based Services. This requires a daunting 46 percent increase in States’ HCBS programs. 18 states, an increase from 16 last year, report no waiting list or a small waiting list (requiring less than 10 percent program growth).

About United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 70 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

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To view this press release in PDF format: click here.

UCP to Host Mandela Washington Fellow

 

 

 

UCP SMALL                   NMF LOGO

 

 

Contact:                                                                                  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ellie Collinson                                                                                     August 8, 2016
ecollinson@ucp.org
202-973-7109

 

UCP welcomes Tobiloba Ajayi as a part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative.

Washington, DC (August 8, 2016) – United Cerebral Palsy is pleased to announce that they have been chosen as a host for the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative. Tobiloba Ajayi, a Nigerian attorney and cerebral palsy advocate, will be joining the UCP staff for six weeks in order to polish her leadership skills and foster professional growth as part of her Professional Development Experience.

 

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, a key piece of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), equips young African leaders with the opportunity to engage in leadership training, professional opportunities, networking, and community support. Fellows are selected based on their extensive record of accomplishment in promoting and innovating positive change throughout their community in one of the 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. After the Fellows attend a six-week Academic and Leadership Institute and meet with President Obama in Washington, DC, they will join private businesses, NGOs, and government agencies across the United States for an additional six week practicum. Here, the 100 Fellows in the program are granted a unique opportunity to develop a mentorship that will continue to assist them even as they resume their leadership development back home.

 

At United Cerebral Palsy, Ajayi will be working closely with UCP’s Program Department on the creation of international resource and emergency preparedness guides for people with disabilities.

 

To learn more about UCP and the Mandela Washington Fellowship program, visit www.ucp.org or yali.state.gov.

 

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About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a broad range of disabilities. Together with over 70 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

 

About Mandela Washington Fellowship

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a U.S. government program that is supported in its implementation by the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX). For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit yali.state.gov and join the conversation with #YALI2016.

UCP Responds to Attack at the Tsukui Yamayuri-En facility in Japan

We are deeply saddened by the events that took place at the Tsukui Yamayuri-En facility in Sagamihara, Japan early Tuesday morning. Our hearts and thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the 19 victims as well as the 26 survivors who were injured in the attack. Violence of this magnitude is shocking, particularly when it appears that the attacker was targeting people with disabilities. We at UCP, and throughout our affiliate network, believe strongly in our mission, and that life for people with disabilities and their families should be one that is free of violence.

Summary of SSA Comments

 

Recently, United Cerebral Palsy submitted comments regarding the implementation of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and the potential impact on individuals with mental disabilities.  

 

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning “Implementation of the NICS Improvements Act of 2007” is a proposed rule with no solid foundation. It incorrectly assumes that there is a connection between an increased risk of engaging in gun violence and having a representative payee to manage one’s Social Security benefits due to an impairment found on a “mental impairment” listing.

 

Four main reasons to urge Social Security Administration (SSA) to withdraw the proposed rule and why United Cerebral Palsy opposes it:

 

First, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) requires the reporting of an individual to the FBI NICS database if they “lack the capacity to contract or manage his own affairs” as a result of “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency condition or disease.” Having a representative payee does not meet this standard.

 

Second, this would create an ineffective strategy to address gun violence. It assumes that those with mental impairments are potential perpetrators of gun violence. It would create a false sense that meaningful action has been taken to address gun violence.

 

Third, this would perpetuate the incorrect association of mental disabilities with gun violence. This could dissuade people with mental impairments from seeking appropriate treatment or services, or from applying for financial aid and medical assistance programs.

 

Fourth, it would create new burdens on the SSA without providing new resources. This proposed rule would divert scarce resources away from the core focus of the SSA.  

 

See the formal comments here.

 

 

 

The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (ABLE)

This post was written by UCP intern Katie Tung in collaboration with UCP’s Director of Advocacy, Jennifer McCue. 

There has been a lot of activity around the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) of 2014. To help you understand the legislation and it’s impact we’ve created a quick summary sheet. As always, if you have additional questions please reach out and let us know.

What it is:

The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (ABLE) allows individuals and families with disabilities to save money in a separate tax-free account that does not negatively affect their eligibility to qualify for federal support programs, most specifically Medicaid and Social Security Benefits. These savings supplement the individual’s current benefit plans and do not disqualify their eligibility to receive federal benefits, unless the benefits are related to housing expenses or the individual has ABLE accounts exceeding $100,000. Medicaid services can be retained regardless of how much is in the accounts.

The purpose of ABLE accounts is to relieve the financial stress caused by the cost of disability-related services. In additional to federal benefits, the assets in ABLE accounts can be used to cover any expense related to the disability of the individual.  These expenses would include but are not limited to: education, transportation, housing, assistive technology, health services and prevention costs. If the individual were to die with assets still in the account, legislation requires the remaining funds to be paid to the state to reimburse for Medicaid benefits.

These accounts would be known as 529-ABLE accounts or 529A. Assets must be added in after-tax dollars but can be withdraw tax-free, similar to 529 college savings accounts. Donors can add up to $14,000 per year, with maximum total contributions totaling at $100,000.

Ohio and Tennessee are the first to have opened ABLE accounts to the public and Nebraska will be opening their program on June 30th. Florida will be enrolling their plan on July 1st. Since individual states are in charge of regulating their ABLE programs, enrollment fees and investment options may vary slightly.

Proposed Improvements:

The ABLE Age Adjustment Act was introduced in March 2016 to raise the eligibility age to create an ABLE account from 26 to 46 years old. The current legislation requires the individual to have developed their disability before the age of 26. By raising the onset age, ABLE could better accommodate individuals who acquire disabilities later in life, such as disabled veterans, spinal cord injuries, heart failure, or other later-developing disabilities.

The ABLE to Work Act would allow individuals with a disability who are employed to personally contribute to their ABLE account. In addition to the $14,000 that can be contributed by parents or guardians, the beneficiary would be able to contribute funds up to the federal poverty level, currently $11,770 per year. Individuals would still qualify for Savers Tax Credit, a tax credit for individuals of low-to-moderate income saving for retirement.

The ABLE Financial Planning Act moves to allow families to rollover savings from their child with a disability’s 529 college saving account to an ABLE account and vice versa. This would allow families to draw previous college savings and put it in their child’s ABLE account without suffering from any taxes. It would also allow families to later draw from ABLE accounts to put into their child’s college savings account.

 

Outline of ABLE Act – http://crenshaw.house.gov/index.cfm/able-act

Ohio’s ABLE program (STABLE) – http://www.stableaccount.com/

Tennessee’s ABLE program – http://www.abletn.gov/

Definitions and qualifications for Savers Credit – https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Taxes-101/What-Is-The-Savers-Credit-/INF15617.html

ABLE Age Adjustment bill – https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr4813

ABLE Financial Planning bill – https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr4794

ABLE to Work bill – https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr4795