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Legislative Priorities

Each legislative session, MassFamilies establishes legislative priorities to guide our advocacy work.

These priorities are in response to current legislation that affect individuals with developmental disabilities in Massachusetts and their families.

Scroll down to learn more.

An Act Addressing the Inequitable Impact of the Pandemic on Black and Latinx Individuals with Autism

HD 1984 / SD 1904

– Filed by Representative Christine P. Barber and Senator Joan Lovely

ABOUT:

This legislation ensures that the Massachusetts Autism Commission addresses the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Latinx individuals with autism. Black and Latino individuals in Massachusetts have been infected with COVID-19 at rates three times higher than White residents. Furthermore, Black and Latinx families are less likely to have the necessary devices and high-speed internet connection necessary to access remote services and are more likely to experience additional barriers related to family illness,
death, and other COVID-19 stressors. Inequities faced by individuals with autism cannot be effectively identified and addressed without gathering race specific data for this population.

This bill directs the Autism Commission to investigate
available data regarding services provided to individuals with autism by racial and ethnic group, primary language, economic status, and gender. The legislation also requires the Autism Commission’s annual report to include recommendations to improve services and address the inequitable impact of the pandemic and recovery process on Black and Latinx individuals who have autism.

 

🚦 STATUS:

Introduced on March 29 2021. The House concurred.

An Act to Ensure Equitable Access to Education, Including Special Education Services, for All Students in Massachusetts

HD 1433

– Filed by Representative Marjorie C. Decker

ABOUT:

This bill will make education data available to the public in a manner that reveals inequities for specific subpopulations of students. Providing the Commonwealth and local communities access to this information is particularly urgent during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery as Black and Latinx communities, and students within these communities, have been significantly and disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. School districts are already required to submit this data to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) pursuant to state and federal law. This legislation would not require the collection of additional data. It would direct DESE to publish data on the delivery of educational opportunities to students in a manner that will provide important information about the range of demographic subgroups facing the most significant inequities, such as low-income Black students, Black males with disabilities, or Latino English Learners with disabilities. With this information, DESE, educators, and local communities will be better positioned to address identified disparities. In the future, this legislation will require that DESE publish data in a similar manner regarding access to special education services for students throughout the Commonwealth.

 

🚦 STATUS:

Introduced on March 29 2021. Virtual hearing scheduled for 07/06/2021 from 12:00 PM-05:00 PM

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