U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg announced the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs has awarded New Jersey $358,289,441 in funds through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to assist the state and local entities in providing free public education to children with disabilities.

“All children deserve access to a quality education that helps them flourish and thrive during the most important years of their development,” said Senator Menendez. “Families of children with disabilities, however, face harder logistical and financial obstacles to access the type of education and services they need particularly in these tough economic times. The funding announced today will facilitate and guarantee that every single child with disabilities in New Jersey has access to a quality special education regardless of economic circumstances.”

“Children are New Jersey’s most important resource and investing in our state’s public education system has to be a top priority, especially when it comes to programs for children with disabilities,” Senator Lautenberg said. “These families shouldn’t have to struggle to make sure their children receive a first-rate education. This IDEA funding will help level the playing field for kids with disabilities in New Jersey.”

Created in 1990, the Individuals with Disabilities Act is a law created to ensure all children with disabilities throughout the nation have access to the education services they need. IDEA Part B Guarantees children and youth (ages 3-21) have access to special education and related services. Part C provides infants, toddlers and their families with early intervention services. In 2009, President Barack Obama allocated more than $12.2 billion in additional funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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