Know what's happening

You can find the following news items / stories on this page:

  • Trisomy 21 Times - The Foundation's Newsletter (click on the month to see past / current issues)  
  • US Department of Education Awards Nearly $20M to Train Special Educators
  • Rosa's Law Signed by President Obama
  • McKay Scholarship Expands in 2011
  • OCPS School Board Chair Candidtes Pledge to Support ESE Students Upon Election
  • UCPs 2011 Case for Inclusion Results
  • Enhanced Background Screening to Protect Vunerable Floridians
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U.S. Department of Education Awards Nearly $20 Million to Train Special Educators

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Education announced it will award $19.9 million in grants to higher education institutions to help prepare special education personnel to improve services and results for children with disabilities.  CEC has been encouraging the Department to award these grants and disseminate funding to the field in a timely manner.

$13.5 million will be targeted at improving the quality and increasing the number of people who are fully credentialed to serve children with disabilities. The funds will help current and future special education professionals complete degrees, state certification, professional licenses or state endorsement in early intervention, special education or a related services field.

It will also support the preparation of special education paraprofessionals, assistants in related services professions (such as physical therapist assistants, occupational therapist assistants), or educational interpreters.

Additionally, more than $6 million will be devoted to “Preparation of Leadership Personnel” grants, which will support doctoral, post-doctoral and special education administration degree programs.

These grant programs are funded by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – Part D Support Programs which are intended to assist in the delivery of special education services. 

For a list of grantees, click here.

For additional information, click here.

Rosa's Law Signed by President Obama

WASHINGTON--President Obama signed a law Tuesday mandating Federal statutes will no longer use the term "mental retardation;" the replacement phrase is "intellectual disability."

Office of the Press Secretary
October 5, 2010
Statement by the Press Secretary

On Tuesday, October 05, 2010, the President signed into law:

S. 2781, the "Rosa's Law," which changes references in many Federal statutes that currently refer to "mental retardation" to refer, instead, to "intellectual disability".

If you are interested in the full text of the bill, click here.



McKay Scholarship  Expands in 2011 

The Florida special-needs school voucher will expand beginning in the 2011-2012 school year.  The McKay scholarship program allows children with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) who have been enrolled in a public school in the last five years to obtain a voucher to attend an approved private school.  In the past, students had to be enrolled in the previous school year.  Students must be first time applicants to the McKay program to qualify.  To find out more details on the plan and how to qualify or apply click here.



OCPS School Board Chair Candidates Pledge to Support ESE Students

On Thursday, August 5, the Down Syndrome Foundation of Florida and the Autism Society of Greater Orlando joined forces to host a forum for the Orange County School Board Chair candidates.  Scott Maxwell from the Orlando Sentinel moderated the event and presented questions to the candidates that had been submitted by the public.  The evening began with a 30 minute "meet and greet" with the candidates.  Each of the candidates shared their experience, opinions and concerns about the ESE Program in Orange County.  At the end of the evening each of the candidates signed a pledge promising to keep the needs of students in the ESE program in Orange County from slipping into the background,  to maintain alignment with State and Federal laws and committing that these students will get the advocacy and resources they need to be educagted in the least restrictive environment within the Orange County Public School System. 

Below is a copy of the pledge they signed.  If you are an Orange County resident, be sure to vote this fall for one of these candidates.  






Given the large number of students within the Exceptional Education Program in the Orange County Public School System, we ask the candidates for the Office of Chairman of the Orange County School Board to make the following commitment and sign the following pledge:

1.   If elected, the candidate agrees to provide opportunity and commitment to have children with varying abilities educated in the least restrictive environment;

.     If elected, the candidate agrees that ESE Programs will never be “afterthoughts” when budgeting priorities and curriculum decisions are being made, but be included from the outset in priority budgeting decisions;

If elected the candidate agrees to provide commitment that all children be provided the appropriate resources in order to receive a quality education;

4.  If elected, the candidate agrees to work closely with the Orange County Legislative Delegation to ensure legislation regarding Exceptional Education is properly monitored and effectively advocated to achieve the common goals of inclusion and opportunity.

Candidates running for this position include Homer Hartage , Leona Rachman and Bill Sublette.  The primary election for this non-partisan position is scheduled to be held on August 24, 2010.


United Cerebral Palsy Releases 2010 Case For Inclusion

5th Annual Report Ranks 50 States & DC on Medicaid Services for Individuals with Disabilities

The 2010 Case for Inclusion report (, ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) for Medicaid services provided to intellectual and developmental disability (ID/DD) populations. The fifth annual rankings reveal:

  1. Despite significant progress, all states have room to improve outcomes and services for individuals with ID/DD, particularly in the current economic climate.
  2. Too many Americans with ID/DD still do not live in the community, although real and notable progress have been made since last year.
  3. Certain states are making substantial progress.
  4. Too much money is still spent isolating people in large institutions, with nominal change since 2009.
  5. Waiting lists have increased dramatically, but performance is quite mixed by state; most are not serving everyone in need.

Top/bottom ten states in terms of quality of Medicaid service provided:

1) Arizona; 2) Vermont; 3) New Hampshire; 4) Washington; 5) California; 6) Massachusetts; 7) Michigan; 8) Connecticut; 9) Colorado; 10) Hawaii; 42) Virginia; 43) Ohio; 44) Indiana; 45) Tennessee; 46) Utah; 47) DC; 48) Illinois; 49) Texas; 50) Arkansas; 51) Mississippi

Seventeen states shifted by at least five places in the rankings from 2009 to 2010, and 21 states shifted at least six places in the rankings from 2007 to 2010. Highlights include:

  • An impressive 22 states ñ up three from 2009 and an increase from 16 states in 2007 ñ have more than 80% of those served living in home-like settings.
  • From 2005 to 2008, an impressive 13 states reduced the number of Americans living in large institutions by 20% or more.
  • Overall the number of Americans with ID/DD on waiting lists for residential services has increased 56% from 2005 to 2008.

This report focuses on what is being achieved; not how much or how little money is being spent. While current Federal Stimulus funds have alleviated Medicaid spending pressures at the state level to a large extent, Medicaid shortfalls are projected to come roaring back in 2011, if the temporary increase in Medicaid funds run out.  (To read the full 2010 report as well as the previous 4 reports published by UCP: )

APRIL 30, 2010

GOVERNOR’S PRESS OFFICE, (850) 488-5394 

Governor Crist Praises Legislation Enhancing Background Screenings to Protect Vulnerable Floridians

 ~ Increases screening processes for individuals providing care for elderly, children and persons with disabilities ~

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today applauded the Legislature for passing House Bill 7069, requiring background screening procedures for individuals who work with vulnerable Floridians such as children, senior citizens and persons with disabilities.  Governor Crist thanked Senators Ronda Storms, Nan Rich and Victor Crist and Representatives Ari Porth and Bill Snyder for their leadership in getting the legislation unanimously passed in both chambers.    

“This good legislation ensures that Florida takes another important measure in protecting the most vulnerable among us,” said Governor Crist. “Thoroughly screening the backgrounds of those who work with children, elders, persons with disabilities – and then verifying those screening results before employees are authorized to go to work – will no doubt improve overall public safety in the Sunshine State.”

This bill will require employees to pass both a state and federal fingerprint check, equivalent to a level 2 background check, before beginning work with such children or elderly.  The bill also requires that fingerprints be submitted in an electronic format to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement by July 1, 2012, allowing regulatory agencies to retain prints and receive continuous arrest notifications from state and federal law enforcement entities.  Additionally, the bill gives select executive agency heads the authority to revoke and deny exemptions from certain disqualifying offenses, except when an individual has been designated as a sexual predator, sexual offender or career offender.

In October 2009, Governor Crist convened select state agencies charged with reviewing legal requirements for screening individuals who provide care to children, the elderly and persons with disabilities to review current background-screening policies.  The group’s findings were presented to the Governor in November 2009 and then presented to the legislature for consideration.  This bill reflects the recommendations of the group.

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