Disability Rights North Carolina and NCDHHS Logos

April 10, 2024

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and Disability Rights North Carolina (DRNC) today jointly announce an agreement in the Samantha R. et al. vs. NCDHHS and the State of North Carolina litigation. This development signifies the commitment of both organizations to ensure all North Carolinians with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have the resources they need to live healthy, independent lives in communities of their choosing.

“We are grateful for the partnership with DRNC that enabled us to reach this agreement so we can do what is right for people in North Carolina with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Kelly Crosbie, MSW, LCSW, Director of the NCDHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Use Services. “People with disabilities should have choices and be able to access services in the setting that is the best fit for them. For all of us, access to the community is essential for helping us thrive.”

“This proposed agreement marks the beginning of change, not the end. By working together, DRNC and NCDHHS will spend the next two years making sure the system is pointed in the right direction – getting change started now – instead of spending time and focus on the appeal,” said Emma Kinyanjui, DRNC’s legal director. “Both DRNC and NCDHHS are committed to being in this for the long haul, because we know that communities work best when everyone, including people with disabilities, can live, work, and play in the communities of their choice.”

The agreement stems from a 2017 lawsuit DRNC filed on behalf of people with I/DD who were unable to access essential services in their communities. State law requires that disabled people have supports and services they need to live in the community of their choosing.

As a result of the lawsuit, in November 2022, Judge R. Allen Baddour imposed specific, measurable goals to ensure NCDHHS addressed gaps in the I/DD system so people with I/DD can live and thrive in community-based settings and avoid unwanted segregation. NCDHHS appealed that ruling.  The two parties then began exploring ways to move forward without the appeal.

Today, DRNC and NCDHHS filed a proposed consent order.  If approved, the agreement will replace the Court’s previous order. Additionally, NCDHHS will dismiss its appeal with the NC Court of Appeals, and DRNC will dismiss its other outstanding claims against the department.

The consent order the parties proposed to the Court sets forth a two-year period, during which NCDHHS will actively work to quickly move more people into community-based services, including people on the Innovations Waiver waitlist and people in institutional settings if they so choose. NCDHHS has also agreed to create and implement an active plan for increasing the Direct Service Professionals workforce and ensuring that people are receiving more of their authorized services.

The proposed agreement contains detailed reporting requirements which will enable the parties and the judge to assess and propose future benchmarks. At the end of the two-year period, the parties will make their recommendations for any additional benchmarks or other provisions.


About Disability Rights North Carolina

Disability Rights North Carolina is the federally mandated protection and advocacy system in North Carolina, dedicated to advancing the rights of all people with disabilities, of all ages, statewide. DRNC is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a member of the National Disability Rights Network. Learn more about Disability Rights North Carolina at disabilityrightsnc.org.



DRNC Contact: Emma Kinyanjui, Legal Director

NCDHHS Contact: news@dhhs.nc.gov