2023 Advocacy Targets: What you need to know

This quick summary describes each of DRNC’s proposed advocacy Targets and explains why they are important.

1. Keep students with disabilities in school

Students with disabilities get excluded from school more than other students. This is often because they have difficult behaviors related to their disabilities. Teachers do not always know what to do. Some send them home or punish them instead of helping them to succeed. They send Black students home more often than white students. We will help these students stay in school. We will also help students with IEPs* get effective reading instruction.

*IEP – Individualized Education Program

Ways students with disabilities are excluded from school:

  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Alternative school placements
  • Modified day schedule
  • Homebound placement
  • Juvenile Court Involvement

*Please note: DRNC does not assist with disputes with private schools. This is because IDEA, the primary law governing special education services for pre-K through 12th grade students, does not apply to private schools.

2. Ensure students with disabilities will attend school free from abuse, including abusive interventions

(Make sure students with disabilities are safe from abuse and harmful interventions in school)

Some students with disabilities are at high risk for abuse at school:

  • Disabled students in self-contained classrooms and separate schools
  • Students with disabilities with significant behavior challenges and/or communication challenges

Abuse can be physical or emotional. It also includes school staff using harmful interventions, like physical restraint and seclusion. We will make sure students are safe in their schools.

3. Advocate for people with disabilities to have fair and integrated jobs

(Work for people with disabilities to have fair jobs that are integrated into the community)

People with disabilities face many problems finding work and keeping their jobs. Some fear losing benefits if they get a job or earn too much money. Others are not getting paid fairly for their work. They might also be denied what they need for their disabilities to do their job well. Additionally, some are still working in separate settings like sheltered workshops.

We will help make sure people with disabilities have the chance to get good jobs and be paid fairly. We will also help them get the accommodations they need to do their job well.

4. Enforce the right of people with disabilities to have equal access to their community

(Make sure people with disabilities can access their community and have the same opportunities as everyone else)

Equal access means a person is able to use and enjoy places, programs, and services in their community just as a non-disabled person. We will help people with disabilities who have not been given equal access.

We will help make sure people have:

  • Equal access to public places, programs, and services.
  • Accommodations/modifications by colleges and universities.
  • Access or accommodations in healthcare.

5. Address North Carolina’s Over-Reliance on PRTFs

(Address the problem of North Carolina relying too much on Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTFs)

Children and youth do best when they get the help they need in their own communities. But many children are being sent to treatment facilities (called PRTFs) because there are no treatment options in their community. We will work to help kids get the mental health services they need in their communities.

6. Reduce unnecessary institutionalization of individuals with disabilities and advance home and community-based healthcare services and supports

(Reduce unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities and improve home and community-based healthcare services and support)

Many people with disabilities could live successfully in their communities if they had the right supports and services. But they are stuck in institutions because there are not enough community services. Additionally, some have been denied or cannot find the services they need to live successfully in the community. So these people are at risk for institutionalization. We will work to help more people with disabilities live in the community; and help them receive services and supports in the community.

7. Protect the housing rights of people with disabilities under both federal and state law

DRNC receives a lot of calls from people who are discriminated against in housing. Some are harassed or threatened with eviction because they have needs related to their disabilities. Others live in homes that are not accessible to them. We will fight against housing discrimination and protect the rights of people with disabilities to have fair housing.

8. Advocate for a safe, equitable and just criminal legal system for people with disabilities

(Work for a fair and just criminal legal system that treats people with disabilities equitably and keeps them safe)

There are many people with disabilities in NC prisons and jails. Most have not been identified as having a disability. They do not receive accommodations or treatments. We will advocate to make sure people with disabilities in prisons and jails are identified and get treatment. We will also work for reforms to make sure that contact with law enforcement and the criminal process is safe and fair.

DRNC is one of the only organizations watching the conditions in NC prisons and jails. We are working to prevent suicides in NC prisons and jails.

9. Advocate for people with disabilities before, during, and after a state-declared disaster/pandemic

We will help people with disabilities prepare for and recover from a disaster/pandemic. Many people with disabilities also face inequities because of poverty and racism. These problems intensify during disasters, including the ongoing pandemic. We will advocate for their civil rights. We will also advocate for displaced people to have accessible, affordable homes.

10. Promote the right of self-determination

(Support the right of disabled people to make their own choices and decisions)

We will promote the rights of people with disabilities to make decisions about their own lives. Making decisions about your own life is one of the most important rights. Guardianship takes away that right and gives it to another person. So we want to make sure people are still able to make decisions about their lives, including decisions about health care, even if they need help with some of these decisions.

11. Enforce the rights of people with disabilities to vote

People with disabilities often have trouble accessing the poll sites.  They also might have difficulty using absentee voting. Additionally, they face discrimination at the polls and poll workers sometimes keep them from voting because of their disabilities. We are working to make sure voters with disabilities are able to vote.

View the full description of the 2023 Targets.

DRNC’s Work Outside the Advocacy Targets

Monitoring and Investigations
As the Protection & Advocacy organization for North Carolina, DRNC is federally mandated and empowered to conduct monitoring and investigations in facilities where people with disabilities live and receive services. We work to keep them free from abuse and neglect. This has been and always will be a critical part of DRNC’s efforts. Within our resources and priorities, we will:

  • Monitor various types of facilities to identify, prevent and remedy instances of abuse and neglect against people with disabilities, and keep them safe;
  • Ensure legal compliance, safe conditions, and appropriate services;
  • Identify individuals who could live in the community with supports;
  • Investigate deaths and allegations of abuse or neglect in facilities;
  • Advocate for systemic reforms.

Information, Referral and Self-Advocacy Support
Another important part of the work we do at DRNC is to support self-advocacy among people with disabilities. We continually offer information and referral services, conduct outreach and education, and provide self-advocacy materials to help people with disabilities and other advocates learn about and enforce disability rights.

Public Policy Advocacy
DRNC engages in public policy advocacy with funds we are able to raise from individual donors.