Thursday, January 26, 2012

Huge News: United States and Virginia Enter Big DD/Olmstead Settlement

This is now a huge week for Olmstead enforcement.  Just a little while ago, the United States Department of Justice filed a complaint and settlement agreement in the case now entitled United States v. Virginia (E.D. Va.).  The agreement settles the federal government's Olmstead allegations regarding Virginia's developmental disability system.  It's a really strong agreement, with a 9-year term.  It provides for the Commonwealth to create 4170 new waiver slots for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are currently residing in state institutions, are on waiting lists for intellectual or developmental disability waivers, or are children living in other ICFs or nursing homes.  It provides for supports for an additional 1000 families providing care and support to family members with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are at the most risk of institutionalization.  It contains detailed requirements for the Commonwealth to set up and operate a crisis system across Virginia.  It includes requirements to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can participate in integrated day activities and supported employment.  It also provides state-funded housing assistance so that individuals on waivers can live in their own homes or apartments.  Importantly, the agreement includes substantial provisions to ensure that the community services are of high quality, measured in various significant ways.

I should note that I supervised the relevant unit at DOJ Civil Rights when it issued its letter of findings in this matter and was involved in the initial negotiations of this agreement before I left, though I have had no involvement in the negotiations since then.  Congratulations to my former colleagues at DOJ and to the forward-thinking Virginia officials who have entered into an agreement that should make important and long-overdue change for Virginians with intellectual or developmental disabilities!

Watch this space.  When I find a postable link to the settlement and any press releases, I will post those later today.  

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