WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) recently introduced legislation to bolster U.S. support for children with disabilities, helping support local disabilities rights organizations and families of children with disabilities around the world.
The International Children with Disabilities Protection Act would create the ‘‘International Children with Disabilities Protection Program,” a grant program within the State Department to empower individuals with disabilities. Additionally, this legislation reinforces U.S. policy to protect against the unnecessary institutionalization of children with disabilities and to help promote the development of laws and policies that support the full inclusion of children with disabilities in families.
“Children with disabilities deserve a place in society where they are respected, loved and treated with basic human dignity,” said Sen. Moran. “This legislation helps protect the most vulnerable children around the globe and gives them opportunities to succeed by helping keep children out of harmful institutions and supporting their families.”
“I am proud to be joined by my colleagues in introducing our International Children with Disabilities Protection Act to address gaps in the United States’ assistance for the more than 240 million children with disabilities worldwide,” said Sen. Menendez. “Children with disabilities are among the most vulnerable in society—frequently denied the choice to live with their loved ones, to receive an education, and to engage and thrive in their communities. By shoring up our resources to amplify the voices and bolster the work of those fighting for the rights of children with disabilities around the world —particularly families of children with disabilities— this legislation represents a significant step forward in advancing disability rights and achieving lasting reform.”
This legislation was cosponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
The International Children with Disabilities Protection Act is also supported by dozens of leading disability rights organizations.
“This bill supports disability activists and families working in their own countries to ensure that every child with a disability can live and grow up with a family,” said Eric Rosenthal, Executive Director of Disability Rights International (DRI). “A relatively small investment by the United States in supporting advocacy will have a big impact on protecting millions of children with disabilities at-risk of losing their families.”
“The International Children with Disabilities Protection Act provides support to activists working in their own countries to make the legal and policy changes needed to create alternatives to institutionalization and support families to keep their children at home, at home, with access to the help they need to thrive,” said Julie Ward, Senior Executive Officer, Public Policy, The Arc of the United States.
“When my son was just diagnosed with autism 29 years ago, his physician recommended institutionalizing him at just two years old,” said Isabel Hodge, Executive Director, U.S. International Council on Disabilities. “Today, with community-based supports, he lives in his own home, is employed, and is also regularly involved in the community through church activities and his hobbies. If we had acted on the physician’s recommendation, then his life would be vastly different and we’re not sure he would have survived into adulthood. All children deserve to grow up with the love and support of their families and community. Please support the International Children with Disabilities Protection Act.”
# # #