Fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
"Barack Obama has been a strong and consistent advocate for fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Congress promised to shoulder 40 percent of each state's "excess cost" of educating children with disabilities, but it has never lived up to this obligation. Currently, the federal government provides less than half of the promised funding (17 percent)."
Invest $10 billion per year in early intervention educational and developmental programs
"Barack Obama and Joe Biden will invest $10 billion per year in early intervention educational and developmental programs for children between zero and five. Their plan will help expand Early Head Start to serve more children with disabilities, and will spur states, through programs like Early Learning Challenge Grants, to expand programs for children with disabilities, such as IDEA Part C, and integrate these programs with other early childhood programs."
Set a national goal to provide re-screening for all 2-year-olds for developmental disorders
As part of support for universal infant screening, "support setting a national goal to provide re-screening for all two-year-olds – the age at which some conditions, including autism spectrum disorders, begin to appear. Part of Obama's early childhood intervention plan will be directed at coordinating fragmented community programs to help provide parents with information about screening for disabilities as infants and again as two-year olds."
Commission a study on students with disabilities and their transition to jobs or higher education
"There has not been a comprehensive study of evaluating access to higher education or transition to the workforce by students with disabilities. As president, Barack Obama will initiate such a study and task his Secretary of Education with researching: the barriers that keep students with disabilities from seeking and completing higher education; the barriers that prevent students from making a direct transition to work; the extent to which students with disabilities are able to access loans and grants; reasons college students with disabilities drop out at a higher rate; and best practices from schools that have effectively recruited and graduated students with disabilities that can be implemented more widely."
Reinstate executive order to hire an additional 100,000 federal employees with disabilities within five years.
"Obama will reinstate Executive Order No. 13173 which President Clinton issued just before he left office. Executive Order No. 13173 failed to achieve its mandate of hiring an additional 100,000 federal employees with disabilities within five years. Obama will issue this executive order early in his first term and designate a senior White House official to assure that all federal departments and agencies meet the mandate."
Set goals and timetables for implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act
"Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act requires the federal government and employers who are federal contractors to 'take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities.' Yet, affirmative action in employment for adults with disabilities is not enforced with goals and timetables like the affirmative action requirements for people of color and women found in Executive Order No. 11246 and its progeny. As a result, affirmative action under the Rehabilitation Act is largely ineffective. Barack Obama will direct his Secretary of Labor to make changes to the regulations implementing Section 503 so that they more closely resemble those implementing Executive Order No. 11246."
Create a best practices list for private businesses in accommodating workers with disabilities
"As president, Barack Obama will direct his Secretary of Labor, the Labor Department's Office of Disability Employment Policy, and its Job Accommodation Network to bring together employers, employer associations, human resources professionals, disability advocates, service providers, and the labor movement to identify, promote, and disseminate best practices in accommodating workers with disabilities."
Launch educational initiative for employers on tax benefits of hiring employees with disabilities
"The tax code already contains several provisions designed to encourage employers to hire employees with disabilities, including the Disabled Access Tax Credit, a Tax Deduction for Architectural and Transportation Barrier Removal, and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Yet, very few employers actually take advantage of these credits. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will launch an aggressive effort to educate employers about these tax benefits so that more employers use them to hire greater numbers of employees with disabilities."
Create a National Commission on People with Disabilities, Employment, and Social Security
Create a national commission charged with "examining and proposing solutions to work disincentives in the SSDI, SSI, Medicare, and Medicaid," among other things.
Change federal rules so small businesses owned by people with disabilities can get preferential treatment for federal contracts.
"Barack Obama and Joe Biden would direct the Small Business Administration to amend regulations under the Small Business Act that provide preferences in federal contracting to small businesses owned by members of socially and economically disadvantaged groups to include individuals with disabilities."
Reduce the threshhold for the Family and Medical Leave Act from companies with 50 employees to companies with 25 employees
"The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees of larger employers (i.e., 50 or more employees) with 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a family member's or their own serious health condition. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will guarantee that millions more workers have access to FMLA leave by reducing the threshold for which employers are covered from companies with 50 or more employees to those with 25 or more."
Provide a $1.5 billion fund to help states launch programs for paid family and medical leave
"As president, Barack Obama and Joe Biden will initiate a 50-state strategy to encourage all of the states to adopt paid-leave systems (as part of the Family and Medical Leave Act). Barack Obama and Joe Biden will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and employers. Obama's Department of Labor will also provide technical information to the states on how to craft paid-leave programs consistent with their local needs."
Require employers to provide seven paid sick days per year
"Require that employers provide seven paid sick days per year – which may be taken on an hourly basis – so that Americans with disabilities can take the time off they need without fear of losing their jobs or a paycheck."
Streamline the Social Security disability approval process
"The Social Security Administration (SSA) has been consistently under-funded, resulting in unconscionable delays in initial claims determinations and hearings for individuals applying for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security Supplement Security Income (SSI) programs. ... Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to streamlining the current application and appeals procedures to reduce the confusion that surrounds these important programs. As president, Obama will also ensure that the SSA has the funding it needs to hire judges and staff and to invest in technology to expedite final decisions."
Amend the Medicare "homebound" rule to allow some travel without loss of benefits
Amend the Medicare 'homebound' rule, which requires severely disabled recipients to stay in their homes to retain benefits, so that they have the freedom to leave their homes without fear of having their home-health benefits taken away.
Increase the Veterans Administration budget to recruit and retain more mental health professionals
Increase "the VA budget to recruit and retain more mental health professionals."
Expand Veterans Centers in rural areas
Expand "Vet Centers in rural areas so that veterans and their families can get the care they need where they live."
Establish standards of care for traumatic brain injury treatment
"Establish standards of care for TBI (traumatic brain injury) treatment, require pre- and post-deployment screenings and improve case management so that service members get the best possible care."
Fully fund the Veterans Administration
Fully fund "the VA so it has all the resources it needs to serve the veterans who need it, when they need it."
Assure that the Veterans Administration budget is prepared as 'must-pass' legislation
"Obama will meet early in the budgeting process each year with congressional leaders and the nation's leading Veterans' Service Organizations (VSOs) to ensure the VA budget is always given 'must-pass' status."
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