March 15, 2022

NC’s Olmstead Plan

North Carolina published the NC Olmstead Plan December 20, 2021.  Many states are in the process of creating an Olmstead Plan based on the US Supreme Court decision in 1999.  North Carolina had not formalized a plan on how to address the decision prior to this time.  Secretary Kinsley calls this a “living, breathing document” because there is still work to be done on it and more opportunity for input. 

Under Olmstead, people with disabilities who reside in publicly funded, congregate settings – or who are at serious risk of entering such settings – must be given the opportunity to live side-by-side with everyone else, to the fullest extent possible.  The Olmstead decision and the North Carolina plan include individuals with lived experience in mental illness and with intellectual-developmental disabilities.  The North Carolina plan spans age groups and includes consideration of families. 

The Plan identifies eleven priorities:

  1. Strengthen Individuals’ and Families’ Choice for Community Inclusion through Increased Access to Home and Community-Based Services and Supports
  2. Address the Direct Support Professional Crisis
  3. Divert and Transition Individuals from Unnecessary Institutional and Segregated Settings
  4. Increase Opportunities for Supported Education and Pre-Employment Transition Services for Youth with Disabilities, and Competitive Integrated Employment for Adults with Disabilities
  5. Increase Opportunities for Inclusive Community Living
  6. Address Gaps in Services
  7. Explore Alternatives to Full Guardianship
  8. Address Disparities in Access to Services
  9. Increase Input from Individuals with Lived Experience
  10. Reduce Transportation Burdens for Individuals with Disabilities
  11. Use Data for Quality Improvement

Perhaps even more important, strategies were identified for each of the priority areas that create a path of action for North Carolina over the few years.  The strategies are centered around improvements at the State level in areas such as expanding research, pilots and coordination with both State and community partners.  In fact, the mission for the NC Olmstead Plan is “In collaboration with our partners, the NC DHHS provides essential services to assist people with disabilities to reside in and experience the full benefit of inclusive communities.”  There is no question that this Plan cannot be executed without a State and community partnership.  The objectives are for the Plan to be: transformative, comprehensive, realistic, actionable, achievable, goal-oriented, trackable and scalable.  While the deadline for feedback on this version of the Plan has closed, the NC DHHS webpage does provide some contact information for ongoing input.