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Billion Strong Stands with International Children with Disabilities Protection Act in the U.S.

By Nabil Eid, Chief Strategy Officer for Billion Strong

According to a UNICEF report, the number of children with disabilities globally is almost 240 million. Children with disabilities are exposed to the depth of deprivation experienced by 1 in 10 children with disabilities worldwide across several indicators of well-being, including health, education, living and growing up in a loving family, and participation fully in their societies.

Over three million children (4.3% of the under-18 population) in the United States had a disability in 2019, up 0.4 percentage points since 2008.

All children should be a part of society, not apart from the community. So, the International Children with Disabilities Protection Act in the US Congress is new legislation to bolster the support of children with disabilities, helping improve the capacity of local disability rights organizations and families of children with disabilities worldwide to advocate for necessary reforms.

The bill promotes decision-making among policymakers and child welfare professionals in the region regarding the deinstitutionalization of children with disabilities and works to plan, monitor, evaluate, and sustain the reforms, as well as link these reforms to broader disability-inclusive changes across sectors and contribute to social justice.
It is, therefore, essential that as much attention is paid to preventing children, particularly young children, from entering institutions to enable them to return to live in families and communities.

I am proud to be joined by my colleagues in introducing our International Children with Disabilities Protection Act to address gaps in the United States assistance for the more than 240 million children with disabilities worldwide. By shoring up our resources to amplify the voices and bolster the work of those fighting for the rights of children with disabilities around the world —particularly families of children with disabilities— this legislation represents a significant step forward in advancing disability rights and achieving lasting reform“. Senator Robert Menendez, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee.

The “International Children with Disabilities Protection Act” will establish a small grants program of $10 million per year over five years and also includes funding for an international training program to support effective community inclusion and deinstitutionalization of children with disabilities.

International Children with Disabilities Protection Program, a grant program within the State Department to empower organizations of persons with disabilities. In addition to creating the first U.S. program focused on helping global efforts to combat stigma and discrimination against children with disabilities, the legislation reinforces U.S. policy to protect against the unnecessary institutionalization of children with disabilities and to help promote the development of laws and policies that support the full inclusion of children with disabilities in families”—Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas.
Read more details about the legislation here.

All children deserve to grow up with the love and support of their families and community. Please support the International Children with Disabilities Protection Act“. Isabel Hodge, Executive Director, US International Council on Disabilities, said.

The international conventions are clear on the rights of children and adults with disabilities to the same protections as others, articulating both their rights and, for children, best interests as the primary consideration. The key sources of these rights are the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Along with the recent adoption of the UN Guidelines on deinstitutionalization, we can move towards the full inclusion of children with disabilities in society.

CRPD-Article 19 – States Parties to the present Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in a community with similar choices. They shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community.

As we are persons with disabilities who can choose our place of residence and where and with whom we live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement. This legislation is a real step to achieving the global goal that we are pursuing through our global movement“. Dr. LaMondre Pough, CEO of Billion Strong Organization.

All children have the right to family life, yet children with disabilities are disproportionately deprived of this right. The International Children with Disabilities Protection Act is now under clear obligations to prevent family breakup and the resulting isolation, segregation, and institutionalization faced by children with disabilities worldwide.

As a disability advocate and mother of a girl with Down Syndrome, children with disabilities have access to a range of in-home, residential, and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community. It’s time to support this legislation”. Debra Ruh, CEO of Ruh Global IMPACT and Co-Founder of Billion Strong.

There are no exceptions to the right to grow up in a family for any child, and the provision of care never justifies denying this right. All children, regardless of disability or social background, have the same freedom and should be given the same opportunity to have their basic emotional needs met by living and growing up in a family and establishing the emotional bonds necessary for their healthy development.

Judy Heumann, the Board of Directors of Save the Children, said: “There is a desperate need to ensure that disabled children who are so often discarded receive the support they need to live lives with dignity. Please support the International Children with Disabilities Protection Act“.

It is important to preserve family relationships to preserve the rights of children with disabilities.
Where States fail to meet their legal obligations to create the family-based support systems necessary to implement the right to family for all children, this is a human rights violation.

Finally, the International Children with Disabilities Protection Program is an important step forward as an approach centered on children with disabilities. It empowers them to live independently and in the community, not reforming institutions. 

Learn more about Nabil Eid here.

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