Be a Voice: Attend a Session
During the month of August, the State will be holding listening sessions to see how the Department of Health and Human Services is meeting the needs of people with disabilities in the community. These sessions are your chance to tell the state what people with disabilities really need. You can tell them what is working in your community and what is NOT working. After these sessions, the State will develop a plan, called the Olmstead plan. This plan should work to address the gaps in services for people with disabilities.
Tips for the listening sessions
We want these sessions to be as productive as possible. When you join a session, focus on giving feedback that can be used to make things better. Here are some questions to consider as you give feedback:
- Do you (or your loved one) have the services and supports you need to live successfully in the community of your choice?
- Have you been able to find providers for the services you need?
- Have your services been cut in recent years?
- If so, how has that impacted your care or ability to live in the community of your choice?
- Do you currently live in the community of your choice?
- Do you have a way to live in the community of your choice?
- What kinds of things should the Olmstead plan include?
- What options should be explored?
The Olmstead plan addresses concerns raised in the Samantha R. case and is part of the solution to the lawsuit.
But it is important to note that even though Samantha R. focused on lack of community-based services for people intellectual or developmental disabilities, the Olmstead plan will address the needs of all disabilities, not just IDD.
We also want to clarify that this plan is not intended to eliminate institutional options. It is intended to increase access to robust community-based services. Currently, many people are at risk for institutionalization or have already been institutionalized because there are not enough services in the community. We want to make sure there is another choice to institutionalization if that is what a person prefers.
What is the Olmstead decision?
In 1999, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that states should make sure that people could receive their services in the most integrated setting possible. It is designed to avoid segregating people with disabilities unnecessarily. In other words, because of the Olmstead decision people with disabilities now have the right to live in their home communities if they can do so successfully with the right services and supports.
What is Samantha R. v. North Carolina?
In May 2017, DRNC filed a complaint on behalf of 5 individuals who were institutionalized because they couldn’t find services in their own communities. The Case, Samantha R. et. al. v. North Carolina, et. al., alleged that it is easier for people with intellectual or developmental people to be institutionalized than for them to find services and supports in the community. It took nearly three years, but a judge finally ruled that the State of North Carolina and its Department of Health and Human Services violated the NC Persons with Disabilities Protection Act.