WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Gregg Harper (R–Miss.) introduced a legislative package today which aims to streamline federal programs and services intended to support youth with significant disabilities from adolescence to adulthood and rebalance federal funding to focus on improved outcomes in post-secondary education and integrated employment.
The three bills, collectively referred to as the “Transition toward Excellence, Achievement and Mobility” (TEAM Act), seek to promote meaningful post-secondary educational and employment opportunities for individuals living with intellectual disabilities. Harper’s proposal intends for these citizens to gain full-time employment in an integrated setting at a livable wage leading to long-term career development and inclusion in the community through independent living and social engagement.
“In order for individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach their maximum potential, Congress must enact a systems change,” said Harper. “The current federal disability laws are hopelessly outdated and will ultimately lead to unemployment and poverty for these children.”
The “TEAM-Education Act” ensures that schools are provided guidance and modest additional resources to engage transition coordinators to proactively assist America’s disabled children during their years in the public school system.
The “TEAM-Empowerment Act” creates an adult transition planning process and system of supports for youth and their families under the supervision of state intellectual and developmental disability agencies. This plan declares that youth can choose an adviser to work with them, whether they would like to advance their education or join the workforce.
The “TEAM-Employment Act” seeks to stimulate a national system-change initiative, which will establish that agencies coordinate services better to produce the desired outcomes of integrated living and employment. This includes incentivizing and rewarding those states who reshape the focus of their current funding streams to promote those services that lead to getting our youngsters fully participating in the community through the general workforce and economic mainstream.
“My intent in introducing the ‘TEAM Act’ is to guarantee that steps are taken to realign the current federal infrastructure so as to promote an efficient blending of resources and coordination of services among federal agencies,” added Harper. “This goal is met by implementing coherent planning centered on the individual and targeting publicly-financed investments toward self-directed significant outcomes.”
Harper, a second-term Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, has a 21-year-old son with Fragile X Syndrome, the most commonly inherited form of intellectual disabilities and the only known genetic cause of autism. The Mississippi lawmaker is a passionate advocate for the intellectual disability community and for promoting public policies that encourage the effective and efficient use of federal resources to support optimal self-sufficiency and economic advancement of citizens with significant disabilities.
The Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (CPSD), a network of twelve national organizations committed to high-impact public policy reform to promote the economic advancement of citizens with significant disabilities, has endorsed this reform package.