July 02, 2020

Van Hollen, Warren, Colleagues Request Funds for the Developmental Disabilities Network

Lawmakers Request Funding for Programs to Support Individuals with Disabilities During COVID-19

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Tim Kaine (D-VA), in sending a letter to Senate leadership requesting $30 million in financial support for the Developmental Disabilities Network in the next COVID-19 relief package. In the letter, the Senators highlight the critical need to support the Developmental Disabilities Network as they mitigate the health and economic effects of the coronavirus on individuals with developmental disabilities.

The Developmental Disabilities network, which is comprised of the State Councils on Developmental Disabilities (CDD or "Councils"), the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs), and the Protection and Advocacy (P&As) programs, is a collection of advocacy groups for individuals with developmental disabilities. These individuals are amongst the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and their advocacy network lacks the resources to keep pace with the increased demand for their services.

"As the pandemic continues to disrupt lives across the country, particularly those of individuals with disabilities, federal support for Councils is all the more crucial," the lawmakers wrote in their letter. "Without federal support and guidance, the CCDs, P&As, and UCEDDs will struggle to continue to serve and advocate for and with people with developmental disabilities."

Americans with developmental disabilities are amongst those whose lives are most disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that people with disabilities may be at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Additionally, these individuals rely on a wide array of in-home services to maintain their health and well-being, many of which have been interrupted or completely halted as a result of the pandemic.

The full text of the letter is available here.