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National Council on Disability Monthly Bulletin for February, 2008
Date:3/18/2008

NCD Celebrating 30 Years of Empowerment: 1978 - 2008

WASHINGTON, March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following is the National Council on Disability's monthly bulletin for February 2008:

The Bulletin, which is free of charge and available at NCD's award-winning Web site (http://www.ncd.gov), brings you the latest issues and news affecting people with disabilities. To subscribe to the NCD listserv, go to http://listserv.access.gpo.gov, click on Online mailing list archives, select NCD-NEWS-L, click on Join or leave the list, then complete the short subscription form. Please send your editorial comments to Bulletin editor Mark S. Quigley (mquigley@ncd.gov).

NCD Releases Foster Care Report

On February 26, NCD released Youth with Disabilities in the Foster Care System: Barriers to Success and Proposed Policy Solutions (http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/2008/FosterCareSystem_Report.html ). The report focuses on the unique challenges older youth with disabilities face as they negotiate the foster care system.

The goal for our country's youth is to live healthy, happy lives and to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society as adults. However, subsets of youth cannot reach these goals with ease. These youth need additional supports to assist them in their journey toward a healthy adulthood, as they are more vulnerable than the 'average' youth and thus are more apt to fall through the cracks. Youth development researchers have determined that some specific youth populations are more vulnerable than others. This report examines one exceptionally challenged group in particular: older youth (specifically, preteens through young adults) with disabilities who are involved in the foster care system.

The child welfare community generally accepts the fact that, while the American foster care system has come a long way in recent years, there is still much to be done to ensure the health and well-being of the children and youth it serves. Likewise, the disability community has seen great improvements in recent years but still advocates for additional needed change. But what is often overlooked among experts in both of these realms is the idea that foster care is indeed both a child welfare issue and a disability issue. This is due to the alarmingly high numbers of foster youth with mental, developmental, emotional, learning, and physical disabilities. The purpose of this report, therefore, is to shift the lens through which youth advocates and service providers view the importance of ensuring the well-being of foster youth. This new lens asserts the importance of understanding the prevalence of disability among foster youth and better ascertaining who should be held accountable for this uniquely challenged and often underserved population.

ADA Restoration Act Update

NCD released a point-counterpoint document in response to opponents of the ADA Restoration Act. NCD recommended, and remains in strong support of, the restoration of the definition of disability in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The congressional intent of this landmark civil rights legislation was to prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all aspects of society, including employment. Instead, because of a number of Supreme Court decisions, many people with disabilities have experienced discrimination and have been denied ADA protections. The ADA Restoration Act is urgently needed to restore the civil rights of people with disabilities, and NCD will continue to work for ADA restoration.

Accessible Currency Update

NCD continues to support a transition to accessible currency in the United States. A variety of approaches have been used successfully by 180 nations around the world, who have made their currency readily distinguishable to people who are blind and visually impaired. The number of people with vision impairments is expected to increase substantially as the baby boom generation ages, thereby making it more important than ever that U.S. currency be accessible in the coming years. According to the Department of the Treasury, new printing equipment is expected to be in place by 2012. NCD has urged the Department of the Treasury to use this opportunity to phase in accessible currency.

NCD Member Activities

On February 18, NCD board member Young Woo Kang, Ph.D., was honored when the University of Pittsburgh Alumni Association named him and two others as Distinguished Alumni Fellows for 2008.

Dr. Kang is an author and the founding president of the Education and Rehabilitation Exchange Foundation, International, a nonprofit organization in the United States and Korea that promotes equal participation for people with disabilities through an annual international conference on disability issues.

Quarterly Meetings

NCD's spring quarterly meeting will be held April 21-23, 2008, at the Westin Arlington Gateway, 801 North Glebe Road, Arlington, VA.

Preparations are also under way for NCD's summer and fall quarterly meetings, which will be held July 14-16, 2008, in Seattle, WA, and October 6-8, 2008, in Kansas City, MO.

These meetings are open to the public. People with disabilities are encouraged to attend and participate in the daily public comment segments of the meetings. The agendas will be posted at http://www.ncd.gov prior to each meeting.

GAO Issues FEMA Report

On February 27, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released GAO-08-369, National Disaster Response: FEMA Should Take Action to Improve Capacity and Coordination between Government and Voluntary Sectors.

Using lessons from the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes, the Federal Government released the National Response Framework (NRF) in January 2008. This report examines (1) why the primary role for mass care in the NRF shifted from the Red Cross to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and potential implementation issues; (2) whether National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD) -- an umbrella organization of 49 voluntary agencies -- is equipped to fulfill its NRF role; (3) the extent to which FEMA has addressed issues with mass care for people with disabilities since the hurricanes; (4) the extent to which major voluntary agencies have prepared to better serve the disabled since the hurricanes; and (5) the extent to which FEMA has addressed issues voluntary agencies faced in receiving public assistance reimbursement. To analyze these issues, GAO reviewed the NRF and other documents, and interviewed officials from FEMA, voluntary agencies, and state and local governments.

GAO recommends that (1) FEMA improve coordination with voluntary agencies, for example, by enhancing capabilities of its specialized staff; (2) NVOAD improve information-sharing during the response to disasters; and (3) FEMA increase coordination with the National Council on Disability. Agency officials agreed with the recommendations.

The entire document, including the scope and methodology, can be found at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08369.pdf.

For more information, contact Cynthia Fagnoni at (202) 512-7215 or fagnonic@gao.gov.


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SOURCE National Council on Disability
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