CSBA and ACSA partner on federal bill to increase IDEA funding
CSBA and ACSA partner on federal bill to increase IDEA funding
CSBA and the Association of California School Administrators, through the CSBA/ACSA Federal Partnership, have put forward the Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act.

H.R. 4107 was introduced July 31 by Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL). The bipartisan bill would increase funding over the next four fiscal years for early education services for the youngest students needing special education services and programs. Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provides funding to states to implement a system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families — and for preschool services under Part B of IDEA.

“Over the past two decades, the needs of children and families nationwide for early intervention and preschool special education services have dramatically increased, while federal investments in these services have continuously deteriorated,” said CSBA President Dr. Emma Turner. “CSBA strongly supports the Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act as a critical mechanism to restore lost funding and ensure that all children are receiving the services they need for success as students and to contribute fully to the social, civic and economic prosperity of the United States.”

Raising funding levels for these programs will increase the amount of services available to special education students at a younger age. Research has shown that the earlier you can provide services to children with special needs, the greater the impact for the children and the lesser the potential for increased and costlier services as they grow. Adjusted for inflation, per-child funding for both preschool students under Part B and for infants and toddlers under Part C of IDEA have decreased from their peaks by more than 64 percent. The Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act would restore funding back to where it belongs.

“Fulfilling the promise of IDEA includes providing sufficient funding for early intervention and preschool special education services for children and their families,” said ACSA President Linda Kaminski. “The Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act is an important step in the right direction.”

Congress has not updated IDEA since 2004, though legislators have historically renewed the law every five to 10 years to improve special education services for students and families and to ensure programs are operating as intended. IDEA is the second-largest source of federal funding for school districts, providing nearly $13 billion annually. Since the law’s last update, the special education landscape has changed in ways not fully accommodated by existing law. The number and percentage of students identified for special education services has increased, while the federal investment in special education has remained well below long-promised commitments.

According to data from the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, in 1999, the per-child funding level for IDEA Part C reached a high of $1,768. That amount has fallen to $1,329 per child as funding growth has not kept pace with enrollment and inflation.

The funding level has fallen even further for preschool programs serving children with disabilities ages 3 to 5. That funding reached its peak in 1992 at $1,484 per child. In 2017, that amount eroded to just $529 per child when adjusted for inflation. The CSBA-sponsored legislation would restore funding to its peak level for both parts of IDEA.

“Early education programs are critical for all students to help level the playing field among children when they begin kindergarten,” said Vernon M. Billy, CSBA CEO & Executive Director. “Increasing funding to these areas of IDEA will allow more children with disabilities to receive early intervention services that help them to develop to their fullest potential.”

The legislation is supported by a wide range of education advocacy organizations from around the country.