Easterseals Bay Area assists members of Congress; White House and federal agency officials; the California state legislature and their staff; and representatives of other national interests—as well as citizens like you—to understand and act in support of policies and programs that promote inclusion, self sufficiency, and independence.
Easterseals Bay Area’s advocacy efforts focus on healthcare, early intervention, assistive technology, and nonprofit organization operations.
Because the majority of our clients have autism, funding and support for programs targeted at autism is a primary focus for our advocacy team. It’s a particularly important time to ensure support for the large and growing community of people with autism in the Bay Area.
- One out of every 59 children is diagnosed with autism.
- For boys, the number is one out of every 37 children.
- Early intervention has proven effective in helping children with autism reach their full potential. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “it is the most powerful tool we have to make a difference in the lives of children with Autism.”
- Nearly half a million teens with autism will enter adulthood over the next decade.
Current Legislative Issues
CalABLE – Tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities
- California will launch CalABLE, the state version of the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (the ABLE Act) in the summer of 2017.
- CalABLE allows individuals with qualifying disabilities to save up to $14,000/year for a total amount of $100,000 with earnings accumulating tax-free, and tax-free withdrawals for qualified disability expenses, such as education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and more.
- This effectively raises the cap for countable assets for individuals seeking assistance from public benefits from the current cap of $2,000 to a new cap of $100,000, providing a greater measure of security for people with disabilities.
- Until the California program is fully implemented, people can open accounts with existing programs from Ohio or Tennessee which can later be transferable to California.
More information about this exciting new development can be found on the California State Treasurer’s website: http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/able/index.asp
Federal Funding for Programs Serving People with Disabilities
Advocates are working to encourage Congress to increase funding for the vital programs that support people with disabilities.
We’re particularly focused on ensuring continued and increased funding for the following programs:
- Vocational Rehabilitation State Grant Program (U.S. Department of Education)
- Supported Employment State Grant Program (U.S. Department of Education)
- Senior Community Service Employment Program (U.S. Department of Labor)
- Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (U.S. Department of Labor)
- Head Start (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
- IDEA Parts B and C (U.S. Department of Education)
- Maternal and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Take Action: Contact your Members of Congress now and urge them to fully fund federal programs that provide employment for people facing disability with employment, early childhood support and other critical services.
This chart, developed by Easterseals Office of Public Affairs, tracks the funding history of federal disability programs. The chart divides the information by agency, listing underneath each agency specific programs that matter to children and adults living with disability.