If you’ve followed DRNC’s 15 for 15 campaign, you already know our small and mighty staff is comprised of disability rights experts in the fields of education, criminal legal, employment, housing accessibility, self-determination, abuse and neglect, community inclusion, disaster recovery, self-advocacy, and voting.

One of DRNC’s teams works in all of these areas!

The work of our Public Policy team, touches the lives of all disabled North Carolinians. This team serves as a “watch dog” when it comes to state laws and policies and works with our partners at the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) regarding federal laws and policies.

By actively engaging in policy and legislative advocacy, DRNC brings our unique expertise to defend and expand the rights of people with disabilities. We educate state and federal legislators about the diverse lives and needs of people with disabilities and how a proposed change to a law, policy or program may affect them. At times, we may work with lawmakers and their staff to draft legislation.

Sometimes we find that the rights of disabled people aren’t being considered when legislation or policies are drafted or put into practice, and we work to ensure these rights are at the fore of every issue – because disabled people are impacted by every law and policy, regardless of the system or agency involved.

It is our job to make sure policy makers include disability rights in every facet of our society.

Our Policy Work

Once a law is passed by the legislature, state agencies usually are responsible for creating the more detailed policies that put the law into action. Policy development requires expertise in state and federal law and a deep understanding of how programs work. DRNC staff members have those skills. They work closely with agency officials to ensure that they create policies and regulations that protect and improve the lives of people with disabilities.

State and federal legislative sessions definitely keep our team busy. But our focus is broader than state and federal legislative actions – we also work closely with dozens of committees, task forces, state agencies, and collaborative partnerships to learn about issues affecting disabled people, collaborate on solutions, and inform policy makers about the potential consequences of proposed legislation or policy. We maintain a sharp understanding of what’s happening around our state, and what issues are coming down the pipeline so we are prepared.

Many of our team’s successes happen because of the work we do in collaboration with partners and advocates throughout the state. Over the past 15 years, our policy team helped achieve significant legislative and policy outcomes for NC’s disabled people. Just a few include:

  • Creating an expedited process that helps students with disabilities get a quicker final decision on their IEP.
  • Raising the minimum age of juvenile jurisdiction from 6 years old to 10 years old.
  • Increasing the safety of people living in jails through heightened inspections.
  • Initiating pilot programs for Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) to assist law enforcement in handling behavioral health crisis calls in a trauma-informed manner.
  • Preventing harmful provisions that may have undermined the goals of stability and continuity of care in NC’s new Medicaid program for children involved in the foster system.

Stay Informed!

Want to learn more about DRNC’s policy work, and stay up-to-date on issues that could affect you and your loved ones? The best way is to sign-up for our monthly newsletter and follow us on social media through our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to stay current on what’s happening in the disability community.

Do you have an issue you want to make sure is on our radar? Email tara.muller@disabilityrightsnc.org and share articles, legislation, other newsletters, and general information with us!