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May 10, 2004

Immediate Action Needed!

Urge Your Senators to Support the DeWine/Murray Amendment to Improve Special Education for Children and Youth in Foster Care

On Wednesday, May 12, the U.S. Senate is expected to consider the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), S.1248 - legislation that provides aid for the schooling of students receiving special education services. Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Patty Murray (D-WA) will offer a bipartisan amendment to that legislation that will substantially increase access to high-quality education for foster and homeless children with disabilities.


Call your U.S. Senators. You can reach your Senators' offices through the Capitol switchboard at 202/224-321.


Ask your U.S. Senators to vote "YES" on the DeWine/Murray amendment to the reauthorization of IDEA (S.1248).


Foster children and homeless children face a unique set of challenging circumstances getting their educational needs met. Of the over 500,000 children in foster care, 30% are in special education. Given the shortage of foster parents in this country, children in foster care are often shuttled between many different homes and schools. In addition to frequent absences and transfers, foster children often don't have parents to advocate for their educational needs. Without a parent to advocate for them, foster children can languish for years with unrecognized disabilities or insufficient services to help them succeed in school. These experiences can leave children in foster care without the education and support needed to lead functional and productive lives.

The DeWine/Murray amendment would improve special education for foster and homeless children with disabilities by improving special education services when children transfer school districts and improving coordination between school districts on assessments and evaluations. Children with disabilities who are highly mobile, such as foster and homeless children, often experience a delay in special education services when they move school districts. Such delays push special education students further behind their classmates. The delay is further exacerbated when children are so highly mobile that they move before the school is required to implement a new Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The DeWine/Murray amendment requires students to be immediately provided with services based on their previously held IEP, in consultation with parents, until a new IEP is developed.

The DeWine/Murray amendment also clarifies which appropriate adults can advocate for children with regard to their special education services. The amendment expands the definition of "parent" to include foster parents, adoptive parents, legal guardians, grandparents, step-grandparents, appropriate related or unrelated adults, and legally designated adults who serve as advocates for these children.

For more information, contact Tim Briceland-Betts, CWLA Senior Government Affairs Associate, at 202/942-0256 or

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