Congress plans to put more money into special education under the omnibus federal budget deal announced Wednesday, and infants and toddlers would see a slight edge when it comes to the percentage of increase—though not in overall dollars spent.
The agreement is moving through Congress and is expected to be signed when it reaches the president’s desk.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has three sections that provide grants to states for education. Part B, which educates children ages 6-21, would grow from about $11.5 billion to $11.9 billion, or 3.5 percent.
IDEA Part B Section 619, often just referred to as “Section 619,” applies to children ages 3-5. This program would grow from about $353 million to $368 million, which represents an increase of around 4 percent.
Part C of the IDEA pays for early intervention services for infants and toddlers. It would see a 4.5 percent boost, from about $439 million to $458 million.
Even combined, Section 619 and Part C make up just a fraction of the money that is spent for children and youth ages 6 to 21. In fiscal 2015, Part C saw a tiny $58,000 increase, while Section 619 was level-funded.
So, the fact that the programs would receive a funding increase in the fiscal 2016 budget could mean that they’re riding a wave of interest in early-childhood education that came from the debate over the Every Student Succeeds Act, the latest revision to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. ESSA includes a $250 million preschool development grant program intended to help states collaborate and coordinate among their different early-childhood systems.
Other Special Education Programs
The budget proposal would allot an additional $2 million to the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Education Program, which funds research into supporting underrepresented students in gifted education. The National Center for Special Education Research, which was funded at $54 million in fiscal 2015, would remain at that level for fiscal 2016.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.