This bill represents everything we’ve been working on for over two decades. All children — especially children with disabilities — need our support to live and grow up in a loving family. And they need protection against being placed in orphanages or other institutions.

—   Laurie Ahern, President, Disability Rights International

Today, a bipartisan group of senators, led by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas, introduced the International Children with Disabilities Protection Act. Senate Bill No.4982 will establish a small grants program of $10 million per year over five years at the US Department of State’s Office of Democracy, Rights, and Labor (DRL) for people with disabilities and families of children with disabilities working to bring about policy and program reforms in their own countries. The bill also includes funding for an international training program to support effective community inclusion and deinstitutionalization of children with disabilities.

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. Children with disabilities are among the most vulnerable in society—frequently denied the choice to live with their loved ones, to receive an education, and to engage and thrive in their communities. 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 Menendez

Children with disabilities deserve a place in society where they are respected, loved and treated with basic human dignity. “This legislation helps protect the most vulnerable children around the globe and gives them opportunities to succeed by helping keep children out of harmful institutions and supporting their families.
— Senator Moran

Click Here for the press release.

Joining Senators Menendez and Moran in cosponsoring the legislation are Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

Click Here for a copy of the legislation.
Click Here for a one-page summary of the bill.
Words of support for the International Children with Disabilities Protection Act:

When my son was just diagnosed with autism 29 years ago, his physician recommended institutionalizing him at just two years old. Today, with community-based supports, he lives in his own home, is employed, and is also regularly involved in the community through Church activities and his hobbies. If we had acted on the physician’s recommendation, then his life would be vastly different and we’re not sure he would have survived into adulthood. 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 

Around the world, millions of children are growing up in large and small institutions without the support and guidance of a family. This bill will start to change by ensuring support, technical assistance, and the active engagement of people with disabilities, their families, and their representative organizations. Along with the recent adoption of the United Nations Guidelines on deinstitutionalization, including emergencies, we can move towards the full inclusion of children with disabilities in society. DRF supports this bill and looks forward to contributing to its implementation, ensuring full participation of persons with disabilities in the process.
— Disability Rights Fund

Special Olympics International applauds Senator Menendez and his colleagues for introducing the International Children with Disabilities Protection Act of 2022.People with intellectual disabilities reside in every nation and neighborhood, and it is in the interest of all countries and communities to ensure inclusion for this historically vulnerable population. The lived experiences of people with intellectual disabilities can vary widely depending on where they were born, but one thing remains constant—marginalizing them via residential institutionalization erodes the social fabric and creates environments that can enable human trafficking, forced labor, and the rapid spread of infectious diseases. 
— Mary Davis, Special Olympics

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, Board of Directors, Save the Children. 
 Judy Heumann 

As a Christian organization, we are called to partner with communities and governments to support the needs of the world’s most vulnerable children. Children with disabilities are some of the most vulnerable, and it is imperative for their protection and healthy development they remain in the care of loving families. This legislation is a critical step in realizing that goal.
— Margaret Schuler, Senior Vice President, International Programs Group, World Vision

All children deserve a future where they can grow, learn and thrive, but many children with disabilities around the world are marginalized and excluded from schools and society. We support this legislation because it invests in children and families, and works to open doors that have been closed off for far too long.
— Christy Gleason, Vice President, Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns,Save the Children 

The International Children with Disabilities Protection Act provides support to activists working in their own countries to make the legal and policy changes needed to create alternatives to institutionalization and support families to keep their children at home, with access to the help they need to thrive.
— Julie Ward, Senior Executive Officer, Public Policy, The Arc of the United States