Last month TASH organized a Virtual Hill Day with Chapter leaders and members to engage them further in federal policy advocacy.
TASH hosted a training session for chapters to help them prepare for meetings with Congressional offices that included Michael Brogioli (TASH Executive Director), Allan Bergman (TASH Public Policy Committee Chair) and Sean Phelan (TASH’s summer Policy Intern). We reviewed the importance of building relationships with Congressional offices, sharing experiences at the state and local levels as constituents, and reviewing TASH’s policy positions and related “asks” of Congressional offices. Participants included chapter leaders from Alabama, Arizona, California, the New England Chapter (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont), North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
TASH identified legislative priorities that address inclusive education, employment and community living, and specifically Appropriations, Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS), and the Keeping All Students Safe Act. Chapter members urged their members of Congress, including Representatives and Senators, to:
- Pass IDEA Full Funding Act of 2021 (HR 5984/S.3213)
- Pass Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act (HR 6532/S.3544)
- Pass Keeping All Students Safe Act (HR 3474/S.1858)
- Pass Better Care Better Jobs Act (S.2210, H.R. 4131)
- Make the Money Follows the Person Program permanent.
This virtual “Hill Day” provided an excellent opportunity for TASH chapters to advocate for and with people with disabilities and to continue to build relationships with their Congressional offices. Over 20 meetings took place as a result of this advocacy initiative, which in many cases resulted in follow-up engagement with various Congressional offices.
Sean Phelan is currently a high school special education teacher in a suburb of Kansas City. He has a bachelors and masters degree in low incidence special education from the University of Kansas. This summer he is interning with TASH and the Council for Exceptional Children.