Background on the Case
You may have heard about the Samantha R case and the historic November 2022 ruling that requires NC to allow people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) to live in the community with the supports and services they need to succeed and thrive. This is exciting news! It means actual change, not just promises, and it is the biggest opportunity yet to improve the lives of thousands of people in NC with I/DD.
NC Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour recognized NC’s long-standing institutional bias and set benchmarks the state must achieve to change the current system that relies on an expensive institutional system. “Systemic relief is required that addresses the needs of people with I/DD who are institutionalized, as well as those who are at risk for institutionalization,” the judge wrote in the order.
But the State appealed, delaying key provisions of the order. In particular, the State obtained a delay to the requirement to provide community-based services to those who want them as an alternative to institutionalization, as well as the requirement to reduce the Innovations Waiver waiting list.
DRNC opposed the State’s motion because of the need for the additional Waiver slots, and the needs of the disabled people who, during the legal process of the state’s appeal, would otherwise receive services in the community as a result of the order.
The ruling, once it is fully complied with, will affect thousands of people with I/DD in NC, build a critically needed community workforce, and hold the state accountable by requiring regular status reports that must be publicly posted.
The lead plaintiff in the case is Samantha Rhoney, who was forced into a state-operated institution at the age of 27. Read Ms. Rhoney’s story, and check out other articles to learn more about this critically important case to people with I/DD.
The ruling is the result of a 2017 lawsuit on behalf of people who were institutionalized or risked institutionalization because the state failed to make sure they could get essential services in their communities. State law requires that disabled people have supports and services they need to live in the community as an alternative to institutionalization.
DRNC will continue to fight for the I/DD community. Our vision is for every person with I/DD to have real, meaningful choices about where they live, work, and play. The Samantha R. decision was our vision made reality, and we will not give up the fight. Please stay united with us.