Denver – Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) run a high risk of being left out of today's labor force due to a lack of educational opportunities after they graduate high school. But that's about to change for IDD students in Colorado, thanks to a bill, authored by Senate President Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs) and Senator John Cooke (R-Greeley), that was signed into law June 6th by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Senate Bill 196 establishes a multi-school pilot program aimed at pushing open the doors of higher education to IDD students graduating high school, who frequently find themselves left in the lurch by the lack of specially tailored college programs. The Inclusive Higher Education Pilot Program will allow IDD students to enroll in two undergraduate courses per semester, along with an advisory course to assist with other classes, at the University of Northern Colorado, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and Arapahoe Community College.
"There is an education gap for IDD students that exists in our state and now we have an opportunity to close it," Cadman said when introducing the bill. "By 2020, the vast majority of new jobs created in Colorado will require beyond a high-school education. Without access to post-secondary education, individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities will be far less able to compete for these jobs and follow their dreams."
"Eighty five percent of families of individuals with IDD said they were not satisfied with the opportunities for their students beyond a high school education," added Cooke, suggesting there will be a significant demand for these programs. "There's absolutely no reason Coloradans with IDDs should be going out of state to attend college, as many are now, when they could be pursuing education and opportunity right here in Colorado."
"That we haven't recognized the need for this sooner is disappointing," said Cadman, noting that Colorado is one of only a handful of states that does not provide these opportunities. "It's our hope that this effort will help Colorado make up for lost time."
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