November 2, 2021
Olmstead v. L.C. was a US Supreme Court decision made in 1999 that determined that unjustified segregation of individuals with disabilities constitutes discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The primary plaintiffs had mental illness and developmental disabilities and were admitted to a State psychiatric facility. They were kept there due to lack of community-based services. This federal court decision meant that states must provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when the services are appropriate, the individual agrees to receive community-based services and the community-based services can be reasonably accommodated.
Fast forward to 2020 when NC DHHS began the process of developing a North Carolina Olmstead Plan by hiring a consultant and appointing a group of stakeholders to work with the consultants to consider areas such as: children, youth and families; housing; community capacity building; employment; transitions to community; workforce development; quality assurance and quality of life, and; older adults. The recommendations of the stakeholder groups have been compiled and are a part of the 79-page draft report. NC DHHS asked for feedback on the draft report by November 8th.
The recommendations were made in the form of Priority Areas. Each of the Priority Areas includes recommendations as well as current initiatives that support the area. These priorities will provide direction for NC DHHS over the next two years and is considered a “living document” for the future vision of the State in services for individuals with disabilities.
Priority Area 1: Strengthen Individuals’ and Families’ Choice for Community Inclusion through Increased Access to Home and Community Based Services and Supports
Priority Area 2: Address the Direct Support Professional Crisis
Priority Area 3: Divert and Transition Individuals from Unnecessary Institutional and Segregated Settings
Priority Area 4: Increase Opportunities for Supported Education and Pre-employment Transition Services for Youth with Disabilities, and Competitive Integrated Employment for Adults with Disabilities
Priority Area 5: Increase Access to Safe, Decent, and Affordable Housing
Priority Area 6: Address Gaps in Services
Priority Area 7: Explore Alternatives to Overly Restrictive Guardianship
Priority Area 8: Address Disparities in Access to Services
Priority Area 9: Increase Input from Individuals with Lived Experience
Priority Area 10: Reduce Transportation Burdens for Individuals with Disabilities
Priority Area 11: Use Data for Quality Improvement