In October of 2017, the Department of Education released a proposed list of priorities and definitions for discretionary grant programs. These priorities would guide the Department when awarding any grants through a competition. The list of the general priorities can be found below, and you can read about them in detail here.

  1. Empowering Families to Choose a High-Quality Education that Meets Their Child’s Unique Needs.
  2. Promoting Innovation and Efficiency, Streamlining Education with an Increased Focus on Improving Student Outcomes, and Providing Increased Value to Students and Taxpayers.
  3. Fostering Flexible and Affordable Paths to Obtaining Knowledge and Skills.
  4. Fostering Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills that Prepare Students to be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens.
  5. Meeting the Unique Needs of Students And Children, including those with Disabilities and/or with Unique Gifts and Talents.
  6. Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science.
  7. Promoting Literacy.
  8. Promoting Effective Instruction in Classrooms and Schools.
  9. Promoting Economic Opportunity.
  10. Encouraging Improved School Climate and Safer and More Respectful Interactions in a Positive and Safe Educational Environment.
  11. Ensuring that Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families Have Access to High-Quality Educational Choices.

AOTA submitted comments, posted here, where our focus was on priorities 1, 3, 4, 5, and 10. On March 2nd, the Department released the final list of priorities. While none of the general priorities changed, there were some small changes to the details.

The Department took AOTA’s comments, and recognized the importance of occupational therapy. They wrote, “occupational therapy practitioners make important contributions to helping individuals with disabilities live independently.”

That the Department made sure to recognize the importance of occupational therapy practitioners shows how respected the profession is to assisting people with disabilities to live more independently. This recognition is due to the extraordinary work of our practitioners and advocates. There is still much more work to do to ensure everyone in government understands the full importance of occupational therapy, however this is evidence that our educational efforts for those in government are effective.