Why Our Children Can’t Wait……Congress, Keep Our Children Safe

Related: APRAIS Seeks Passage of Long Awaited Legislation on Restraint & Seclusion

The end of the year always offers a time for individuals to reflect on the previous year and prepare for the next year.  As Congress wraps up the 2011 legislative schedule, we want to call their attention to the thousands of children who have continued to be subjected to acts of seclusion and restraint in schools.  Help us educate Congress and encourage them to take swift action in the 112th Congress to address this epidemic and keep our children safe while they are in school.

What You Can Do to Carry This Message Forward

The harmful use of restraint and seclusion is a pervasive, nationwide problem.  Federal legislation is essential to provide children in all states equal protection from these dangerous techniques and create a cultural shift toward preventive, positive intervention strategies.  Teachers need the knowledge, training, tools and support to protect themselves and their students by preventing problem behaviors and maintaining a positive and healthy educational environment. Federal action restricting the use of restraint and seclusion is critical to assure the safety of all children in our nation’s schools.  Please take a moment to convey this message to your Congressional leaders in the following ways:

1) For the U.S. House of Representatives: Urge your Member of Congress to cosponsor the Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R. 1381).  If your Member of Congress is on the House Education & Workforce Committee, request that they weigh in with the Committee leadership urging Congressional action to decrease the use of seclusion and restraints in schools in this Congress.

2) For the U.S. Senate: Urge your two Senators to co-sponsor the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 2020)

Communication Options

There are a Number of Ways YOU Can Convey Your Message:

By Phone: Simply call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Member of Congress or Senator.  Then ask to speak with the legislative aide who handles education policy issues.  See attached Advocacy Tool #2 Call Script for more recommendations.

By E-mail: Go online to find the personal website of your Congressional leaders and then submit your letter via email.  You may also call the offices in advance and ask for the email address of the legislative staff member handling education issues and email your letter to them directly. Please see attached letter templates in Advocacy Tool #3.

In Person Back at Home: You can reach out to your Member of Congress (MOC) or Senator via their local offices back home and ask to schedule a meeting with appropriate staff who can help communicate and convey your concerns and requests to the MOC or Senator directly.  You can also find out what upcoming local events are occurring (such as town hall meetings, constituent coffees, etc.) that would also afford you an opportunity to publicly ask a question or share your perspectives on seclusion and restraint.

Tools for Advocates

To assist you in this effort, we have included a number of tools to help you communicate effectively with your Congressional leaders.  These tools include

Legislative History re: Seclusion & Restraint

Call Script

Draft E-mail Letter for House

Draft E-mail Letter for Senate

Additionally, the following Internet resources may be of interest to you –

APRAIS Website:   www.tash.org/aprais

Summary of the Keeping All Students Safe (H.R.1381):  http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d112:1:./temp/~bdYeYP:@@@P|/home/LegislativeData.php|

Membership of the House Education & Workforce Committee:  http://edworkforce.house.gov/Committee/SubcommitteesJurisdictions.htm

Membership of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP):  http://www.help.senate.gov/