Measure Would Enhance Social Security Child’s Insurance Benefits: Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) introduces the Child’s Insurance Benefits Improvement Act (HR 5715) which would enhance Social Security’s Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefit. The DAC benefit allows a person age 18 or older who meets the Social Security disability standard to receive benefits based on the prior contributions of a parent, who is themself eligible for Social Security retirement or disability benefits. Currently, to qualify for the DAC benefit, a person’s disability must have started prior to age 22.
HR 5715 would increase that age from 22 to 26. The bill would apply this change retroactively so that individuals who acquired disabilities between age 22 and 26 could qualify for benefits, regardless of their current age. Additionally, HR 5715 would increase the ages associated with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recent work requirements by four years. This would extend SSDI coverage to more individuals ages 22 to 28 who have a limited work history, such as youth enrolled in post-secondary education. The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
States Facing Fiscal CHIP Cliff: Witnesses told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that states will be facing a significant funding cliff next year to finance Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs. CHIP provides affordable health coverage for millions of children across the United States, including many children with disabilities. The program originally began in 1997 and was reauthorized in 2009 to expand eligibility and provide states with additional tools to successfully meet the needs of uninsured children. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) authorized CHIP through FY 2019, but only provided appropriations through FY 2015, thus creating a funding cliff for states, witnesses said.
ED Promotes New P3 Grants: The Education Dept. is promoting a $7.1 million competition that will help reconnect the more than five million youth who are not employed, nor in school, and start them on a career/post-secondary education path. ED recently held a webinar for potential grant applicants to the Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth (P3) competition (CFDA Number: 84.420A); Governments, education and community-based organizations and nonprofits can apply.
Deadline: March 4; up to 10 awards will be made (no match required);
Projects must address youth who are between the ages of 14 and 24, low-income, homeless, in foster care, involved in the juvenile justice system, unemployed, or not enrolled in, or at risk of dropping out of, an educational institution. Programs will have broad authority to blend federal funding to meet the needs of the project youth.
Education Bill Introduced in Senate: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduces the Higher Education Affordability Act (S 2954), a bill to reauthorize and improve the Higher Education Act. The bill seeks to improve affordability and accountability in the nation’s colleges and universities and includes a number of improvements for students with disabilities including:
- Reauthorizing and expanding the Transition Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities to encourage more programs for students with intellectual disability and to better disseminate knowledge developed by institutions in creating and operating these programs (this includes programs that help students with intellectual disabilities get into and stay in college);
- Creating national technical assistance centers to help high school students with disabilities identify schools with appropriate supports and to help institutions better provide physical, programmatic, and instructional accommodations;
- Creating a national data center to collect information about the recruitment, retention, graduation, and employment of students with disabilities; and
- Requiring institutions to ensure their instructional materials are accessible.
The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
House Announces New Subcommittee Chairs for Key Committees: House Appropriations Committee Chair Harold Rogers (R-KY) announces the chairs for the Committee’s 12 subcommittees. Among the changes, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) will replace Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) as chair of the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education subcommittee; Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) will replace Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) as chair of the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) subcommittee, and Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) will replace Rep. Tom Wolf (R-VA) as chair of the Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee. Rogers also welcomed new members to the Committee: Reps. David Jolly (R-FL), Scott Rigell (R-VA), Evan Jenkins (R-WV), and David Young (R-IA). House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) also announced chairs for the Committee’s six subcommittees. Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) will continue as chair of the Health subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over children’s health care and Medicaid, with Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) replacing Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) as vice chair. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) will chair Oversight and Investigations, with Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) replacing Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) as vice chair.
Plan Would Strengthen Teacher Preparation: ED proposed regulations that help ensure teacher training programs are really preparing educators who are ready to succeed in the classroom. The new rule shifts the focus for currently required state reporting on teacher preparation programs from mostly inputs to outcomes — such as how graduates are doing in the classroom – while giving states more flexibility to determine how they will use the new measures and how program performance is measured. Specifically, the proposed regulations would refocus institutional data reporting already required under federal law on meaningful data at the program level, support states in developing systems that differentiate programs by performance on outcomes.