The number of young children served under IDEA continues to increase as the IDEA federal dollars allocated per child each year decreases according to data presented by the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
During the past 40 years, the number of preschoolers with disabilities served under Section 619 of IDEA has increased from 200,000 to over 750,000 while dollars per child under the IDEA federal allocations have decreased. In 1992, IDEA Section 619 was funded at $803 per child and in 2017 the federal allocations were $502 per child. Over the course of twenty-five years the dollar amount has decreased each year.
Likewise, the data, for the IDEA Part C Infant and Toddler Program tells the same story of woeful underfunding over decades. In 1991, 194,000 infants and toddlers were served and in 2017 the number served hit an all-time high of 373,000. The IDEA Part C per child funding of $1,979 in 1999 has consistently decreased to $1,260 per child in 2017.
The Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of education associations including CEC, dedicated to providing a strong and unified voice in support of increasing the federal investment in education launched its “5 Cents Makes Sense” campaign this week. Education accounts for just 2% of all federal spending - the United States spends only 2 cents of every federal dollar on education. CEF and CEC are advocating to increase the investment in education to 5 cents of every federal dollar.
Research has demonstrated that intervening at the earliest age can improve outcomes for children with disabilities as they enter kindergarten and progress in their education. In fact, studies have found several long-term cost savings such as decreased grade repetition, reduced special education spending, enhanced productivity, lower welfare costs, increased tax revenues and lower juvenile justice costs.
Tell your members of Congress that infants, toddlers and preschoolers can’t wait. Go to CEC’s Legislative Action Center and urge your members of Congress to increase funding for IDEA.