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News Brief

Jan. 2, 2024 |  By: Mark Moran - Public News Service

Iowans with disabilities ask lawmakers to protect special-ed funding


By Mark Moran - Public News Service

The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council has a wish list for the new legislative session.

The group has just released its public-policy agenda, and is asking state lawmakers to increase funding for educational programs.

The council's list includes three main priorities for the New Year: increasing employment opportunities for people living with disabilities, improving community living options, and addressing what the council's Public Policy Manager Carlyn Crowe said she worries could be a dropoff in special educational services for students with disabilities.

"We not only have concerns about how special education may be working for our students in the future," said Crowe, "but also whether there's going to be additional cuts that could really hamper their efforts to educate people with special needs."

Crowe said Iowa's recent adoption of Educational Savings Accounts, which allow students to attend private or charter schools at state expense, will further decrease overall educational support for people living with disabilities.

Crowe added that the increase in people wanting to "age in place" is also creating demands for community living options for those living with disabilities.

Access to employment is another key area for the council.

Crowe said Iowans with disabilities are often overlooked as a solution to the current workforce shortage, so the council plans to work with the Legislature on workforce development to increase access to jobs.

"And also the training they need," said Crowe, "and perhaps other supports if they are interested, for example, in starting their own business."

The Iowa Legislature gavels in January 8.