People with disabilities have a great need for legal assistance. Because DRNC does not have nearly enough funding to address every disability-related legal matter in North Carolina, we work with the disability community to identify the legal problems that are the most pressing, widespread, or that no one else is equipped to handle. We develop Advocacy Targets, or scope of work, to respond to the tremendous demand on our resources and inform the public where we are focusing our work.
DRNC’s core advocacy activities are listed at the end of this document. We also invite public comment on how we carry out this ongoing work.
DRNC seeks private grants to increase our advocacy for disabled people. This work is defined in our project proposals and is not subject to public comments.
DRNC’s Proposed Advocacy Targets for Fiscal Year 2024
- Keep students with disabilities in school
- Ensure disabled students are safe from abuse and harmful interventions at school
- Advocate for people with disabilities to have equal access to integrated jobs that pay at least minimum wage
- Enforce the right of people with disabilities to have equal access to their communities
- Reduce North Carolina’s over-reliance on Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTFs)
- Reduce unnecessary institutionalization of individuals with disabilities and improve home and community-based healthcare services and supports
- Protect the housing rights of people with disabilities under both federal and state law
- Advocate for a safe, equitable and just criminal legal system for people with disabilities
- Enforce the right of disabled people to control their own lives
DRNC’s Work Outside the Advocacy Targets
DRNC’s outreach work engages and builds relationships with disabled people, communities, organizations, and other key stakeholders to increase awareness of DRNC’s services, provide education on disability rights, and connect them to opportunities, resources, and supports they need to overcome barriers to living independently in communities of their choice. We seek to build, cultivate, empower, and maintain relationships with disability communities in all 100 NC counties, with a focus on rural areas, communities of color, older adults, and LBGQT+ people.
DRNC’s outreach has also focused on people with disabilities who have been affected by disasters or pandemics. Through our outreach work, DRNC’s intentionally collects input from people with disabilities across NC to help inform our advocacy targets.
Currently, due to support from USAging, DRNC’s outreach priority is vaccine access. Project ACCESS seeks to provide equitable vaccine access to disabled people across NC, especially people with age-related disabilities and people who live in rural or historically marginalized communities.
Voters with disabilities still vote at disproportionately lower rates than non-disabled people. Reasons for this disparity include significant structural and procedural barriers, and lack of focus on the needs of disabled voters by policy-makers, boards of elections, political parties, funders, voter engagement advocates and volunteers, and others. DRNC maximizes our voting rights impact by ensuring that coalition partners who work on voter engagement and mobilization make their efforts and information accessible, and explicitly consider the needs of voters with disabilities in their planning. We emphasize the benefits of early voting, identify and address barriers at polling sites, and dismantle access barriers to voting, including absentee voting.
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 raise from individual donors to support our scope of work. In accord with our important role as the state’s protection and advocacy organization, this work keeps the perspective of people with disabilities at the forefront of policies in administrative agencies, state rules, and state laws.
Representative Payee Reviews
DRNC is charged with ensuring that disabled people with a rep payee that receives and manages their Social Security benefits are not abused, neglected, or exploited. Our rep payee reviews include:
- An interview with the individual or organizational representative payee
- A review of the representative payee’s financial records for the requested beneficiary or sample of beneficiaries served
- A home visit and interview for each beneficiary included in the review
- An interview with legal guardians and third parties when applicable