Bargaining CHIP—U.S. Senate votes to extend Children’s Health Insurance Program: A silver lining may emerge from the dark cloud of stalemate enveloping the U.S. Congress over the federal budget and immigration policy. The Senate’s Republican leadership put a six-year extension of Children’s Health Insurance Program funding into a short-term budget bill as a successful sweetener to secure Democratic votes. The deal approved today by a bipartisan vote of 81 to 18 continues funding for the federal government through February 8, extends CHIP funding authorization for six years, and assures consideration of immigration legislation on the Senate floor in February. However, the bill still has to make its way back through the House, and it leaves unsettled the restoration of legal status for young people who were brought into the country as little children without immigration papers. At least the deal if completed will end the use of health care for millions of CHIP children as a bargaining chip in congressional budget talks. But the 800,000 “childhood arrivals” who could soon be deported despite having become successful students and workers here remain in limbo for now.
–outreach to parents of children suspected of having a disability to help fully inform them of their rights to a free and appropriate public education;
–a statewide special education professional development system;
–compensatory services for students who are found to have needed services and did not receive them (TEA would identify funds to support this effort);
–strengthened TEA staffing and resources devoted to special education, allowing for greater oversight as well as additional on-site support to local school districts.