On June 28, 2011, TASH held its fifth annual Capitol Hill Day in Washington, D.C., with the board of directors and a number of advocates, some of whom traveled from as far away as California, Arizona and Florida to be here. Capitol Hill Day is an opportunity for constituents to come to the nation’s capital and present their concerns about issues that are important for legislation and policy reform. Each year, TASH sends out an invitation to its board of directors and to members to join in a two-day event where advocacy is at the forefront. Day one is an intensive advocacy training session, which was led this year by Serena Lowe, principal of Aneres Strategies and a government affairs consultant for TASH. During the training session, Serena review TASH’s position on policy items and armed attendees with the materials and know-how to be effective advocates on the Hill!
This year’s issue of concern was the bill H.R. 1381, otherwise known as Keeping all Student Safe in Schools. This legislation was introduced in the 112th Congress on April 6, 2011, by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Education and Workforce Committee. It is co-sponsored by Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.). As of today there is no companion bill in the Senate. This bill is the restraint and seclusion legislation that TASH has put at the forefront of its legislative agenda and has lead the disability community with the creation of the coalition The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Intervention and Seclusion (APRAIS).
There were 13 board members and nine advocates on the hill visiting both House and Senate representatives to discuss H.R. 1381, as well as TASH’s work in each of its national agenda areas – education, employment, community living, diversity and cultural competency and human rights. Together, this amazing group of 22 people represented 16 states and visited 47 House and 32 Senate staff members to discuss the importance of “The Cost of Waiting” to pass this important legislation. The advocates asked their House representatives to sponsor the bill, to use their power to move the bill through committee and to the floor and to vote yes when the time comes. From their Senators, advocates asked for a sponsor who will not only introduce a companion bill, but also assist with the passage of this bill in the 112th and have this bill as one of the important pieces of legislation to come out of this congress and signed by President Obama.
Some of the advocates discussed their personal story of how their child has been the victim of such horrific procedures. All of them informed the legislators and their staff of the data that proves the use of restraint and seclusion is not needed nor warranted. They used the information given to them in the training and presented in the brief titled “The Business Case for Preventing Restraint and Seclusion,” by the Substance Abuses and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to discuss the cost savings benefits to government by eliminating these procedures.
This year’s Capitol Hill Day also included a Congressional Briefing session in the Rayburn House Office Building. This educational briefing was opened to the public and the congressional staff and offices. There was a full house with more than 100 participants who were given a wonderful educational session about the need to end the use of restraint and seclusion in our schools. Barb Trader, Executive Director of TASH, was the moderator for the hour-long panel discussion and question-and-answer session. You can see photos from the event or watch the briefing in its entirety.
If you have questions about this event please contact Jonathan Riethmaier at firstname.lastname@example.org.