Recent News

(Posted 10/14/2014)
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, signed into law on July 22, 2014, will become effective on July 1, 2015.  It will assist job seekers with training and education opportunities and give them more access to employers.  It promotes work-based training.  Youth with disabilities are to receive transition services needed to obtain and retain competitive integrated employment. 

Learn more at

A webinar on the legislation is available at


(Posted 10/14/2014)
Autism CARES Act

On August 8, 2014 President Obama signed Public Law 113-157, the Autism CARES Act.  The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support (CARES) Act of 2014 reauthorizes the 2006 Combating Autism Act.  This Act ensures that the gaps in services for persons with autism will be a federal priority.  The legislation supports early identification and improvements to health care.  Read a summary of the legislation at


(Posted 7/29/2014)
Bullying Law Changes in Illinois

On June 26, 2014, the law about required bullying policies in Illinois school districts changed.  The bullying policies now must indicate which staff person in each district will receive bullying incident reports, must indicate how parents will be informed of each incident, must offer parents participation in the investigation process, and must describe how parents will be notified of the investigation outcome.  Social work services, counseling, school psychological services, other interventions, and restorative measures that are available are to be described to parents.  Read the new law at


(Posted 7/25/2014)
Medicaid Coverage of Services for Children with Autism

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has directed states to cover medical and behavioral health treatments for children with autism. All Medicaid-eligible children must receive Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) services up to the age of 21. Services can be delivered by licensed practitioners as well as appropriately credentialed non-licensed practitioners. Read the bulletin to states here: Clarification of Medicaid Coverage of Services for Children with Autism


(Posted 7/25/2014)
DSR Transition Services

Vocational Rehabilitation agencies, including the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) in Illinois, are authorized to provide eligible students with disabilities necessary transition services and can assist these youth to attain their post-school goals, including ahievement of employment in an integrated setting within their community. Youth are eligible to receive BR services if they are individuals with a disability and if VR services are needed in order to prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment.
VR agency involvement helps to ensure that the vocational or employment-related provisions of the IEP provide a bridge to the VR services needed for life AFTER school. The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) encourages VR agencies to engage in innovative strategies, involving students with disabilities and their families in the transition process as early as possible.
Learn more in the Techinical Assistance Circular issued by RSA on May 6, 2014 here: Transition Planning and Services


(Posted 6/17/2014)
Medicaid Reform

Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation to modernize and improve Illinois' Medicaid system on June 16, 2014. The new law will benefit Illinois' three million residents who currently receive Medicaid, as well as the state's 200-plus hospitals and 1,200 nursing homes. Protections will increase over a four-year transition period. Learn more here:


(Posted 5/30/2014)
Competitive Employment Opportunities
Congress is considering a bill to require most people with disabilities to try competitive employment before they become employed by a sheltered workshop where they would receive subminimum wages.  Learn more from Disability Scoop. 


(Posted 5/29/2014)
Employment of People with Disabilities

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs estimates that more than 45,000 companies are federal contractors or subcontractors. Due to changes in the federal Rehabilitation Act, effective March 24, 2014, these companies must recruit and eliminate barriers to the employment of people with disabilities. The companies will aspire to having 7% of their employees be veterans and people with disabilities. Learn more at Disability Scoop


(Posted 5/14/2014)
CHARTER SCHOOLS and The Rights of Children with Disabilities
Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act applies to students at all public charter schools in the United States.  Section 504 prohibits discrimination based on disability.  A school’s eligibility criteria for admission and disciplinary actions must be nondiscriminatory.   Affirmative steps must be taken to help English-language learners overcome language barriers.  Every student with a disability must be provided a free appropriate public education, that is, regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet his or her individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met.  Charter schools must provide nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities in such a manner that students with disabilities are given an equal opportunity to participate.  A Dear Colleague Letter on this topic was issued by the U.S. Department of Education on May 14, 2014: DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER on NONDISCRIMINATION BY CHARTER SCHOOLS


(Posted 5/9/2014)
Student with Disabilities and Graduation
More Americans are graduating high school than ever before, but students with disabilities remain far behind their typically-developing peers, a new report finds.

Nationally, 80 percent of public high school students earned a diploma on time during the 2011-2012 school year, according to data released Monday from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

While the number of students with disabilities obtaining diplomas also ticked up that year, just 61 percent of those with special needs graduated, the findings indicate.

For the report, students were considered to graduate on time if they finished high school in four years. Those who completed an Individualized Education Program but did not obtain a traditional diploma and students who were held back a grade were not included.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hailed the progress, but said there are still far too many students dropping out.

“That 20 percent who didn’t complete high school on time in 2012 represented 718,000 young people — more teenagers and young adults than the total population in Wyoming or Vermont,” Duncan said. “Among them are a sharply disproportionate share of African-American, Hispanic and Native American students, along with students from low-income families, students with limited English proficiency and students with disabilities. Not one of those groups reached a 75 percent graduation rate, let alone 80, and several have rates in the 60s or below.”

Currently, students with disabilities account for about 13 percent of the nation’s students, but their success varies dramatically by state, the report found. In 2012, for example, 81 percent of students with disabilities graduated in Montana while just 24 percent did in Nevada.

A second report, which was also released Monday by Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center, America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education, indicated that increasing the graduation rate of students with disabilities is one of five key areas of emphasis that need to be addressed in order to bring the nation’s overall graduation rate above 90 percent


(Posted 2/25/2014)
Restraint and Seclusion info
Keeping All Students Safe Act
At a news conference in Washington DC on February 12, 2014, Senator Tom Harkin unveiled the findings of an investigation into the use of seclusion and restraints.  Harkin’s investigation found that under current law, a family whose child has been injured, experienced trauma, or died as a result of the use of seclusion or restraints in school has little or no recourse through school procedures or the courts.  Unsupervised seclusion and physical restraints are being used thousands of times each year.Harkin announced the introduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act, a bill to ensure the effective implementation of positive behavioral interventions in our nation’s schools.  The legislation will bar the use of seclusion in locked, unattended rooms or enclosures and prohibits almost all uses of restraint procedures in schools. Harkin said “These practices provide no educational benefit”. The Bill ensures that school personnel have the knowledge and resources available to respond, in a positive, supportive, and safe manner when challenging behaviors occur. 
Read more about this Bill and the findings of the investigation here:Keeping All Students Safe Act Legislation


State of Learning Disabilities
The National Center for Learning Disabilities has released the third edition of its State of Learning Disabilities Report.  This report is for anyone who is concerned about the one in five children, adolescents, and adults who are impacted by learning and attention issues, whether in school, at home, or in the workplace.  It is about ensuring that every individual who struggles with learning and attention issues is provided the opportunity to graduate from high school, live an independent life and contribute to society in the most meaningful ways. 
Read it today at:State of Learning Disabilities


(Posted 2/18/2014)
Guidance on Discipline at School
A guidance document has been issued by the U.S. Department of Education related to discipline at school.  This guidance document discusses approaches to creating safe and supportive conditions for learning.  The guiding principles to improve school climate and discipline include:

1-create positive climates and focus on prevention;
2-develop clear, appropriate, and consistent expectations and consequences to address disruptive student behaviors; and
3-ensure fairness, equity, and continuous improvement. 
Read this resource guide:


Evidence-Based Practices for Children, Youth, and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder is a report that provides evidence about which educational and therapeutic practices are effective with students diagnosed on the autism spectrum.  Tables 7 and 8 in Chapter 3 list the evidence-based practices, define them, and show which age groups reported improvement after using the practice.  This report was produced by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, and the Autism Evidence-Based Practice Review Group and was funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs and the Institute of Education Science. Evidence-Based Practices for Children, Youth, and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder


(Posted 1/20/2014)
The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders has released its much anticipated update on evidence-based practices for children and youth with autism. Scientists at UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute spearheaded the project, screening 29,000 articles about autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to locate the soundest research on interventions for children from birth to age twenty-two. Research Backs More Strategies for Children with Autism