The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today released a draft of its Olmstead Plan designed to assist people with disabilities to reside in and experience the full benefit of inclusive communities. The plan is open for public comment through Nov. 8, 2021. NCDHHS encourages all interested individuals and organizations to provide comment on this draft plan. NCDHHS will publish the final, two-year plan in December and begin implementing activities outlined in the plan in calendar years 2022 and 2023.
The Olmstead Plan will serve as a blueprint for the way that NCDHHS and its state government partners make decisions central to improving the lives of people with disabilities. The plan will seek to divert people from entering institutions and support those wishing to leave by offering an array of community living services and supports. Access to housing, employment, transportation and other aspects of community life are addressed in the plan.
The draft plan incorporates efforts already underway across NCDHHS to refine and re-define policies and programs so they more clearly align with the U.S. Supreme Court’s imperative in the Olmstead v. L.C. ruling of community integration. It builds on the foundation of NCDHHS’ Transition to Community Living and Money Follows the Person programs, and it expands the work addressing social determinants of health that is at the heart of NCDHHS’ Healthy Opportunities initiative.
"This draft plan will commit North Carolina to a future where people with disabilities can access the array of publicly-funded services in their communities they need to live everyday life, side-by-side with friends, family and neighbors," said Dave Richard, NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for NC Medicaid. "Realizing the promise of the Olmstead ruling requires all of us working together."
Throughout the past year, the NCDHHS Office of the Senior Advisor on the Americans with Disabilities Act and its contractor, the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC), have relied and built upon the insights, expertise and lived experience of the Olmstead Plan Stakeholder Advisory (OPSA) to develop the state’s Olmstead Plan. The advisory’s 36 external stakeholders have met quarterly and in committee for 15 months, advising NCDHHS on all aspects of the plan.
North Carolina’s draft plan includes 11 priorities:
- Strengthen individuals’ and families’ choice for community inclusion through increased access to home and community-based services and supports.
- Address the direct support professional crisis. Implement strategies to recruit, train and retain the frontline staff who provide those daily services that allow people to live, work and thrive in their communities.
- Transition people to more independent living situations from placements in institutional and segregated settings and provide needed supports in the community for individuals who are at risk of entering these settings.
- Increase opportunities for supported education and pre-employment transition services for youth and competitive integrated employment opportunities for adults with disabilities.
- Increase access to safe, decent and affordable housing.
- Address gaps in services.
- Explore alternatives to guardianship.
- Address disparities in access to services.
- Increase input to public policymaking from families and individuals with lived experience.
- Increase access to transportation.
- Use data for making quality improvements in the provision of services and for advancing the achievement of the plan’s goals.
Olmstead v. L.C. is a U.S. Supreme Court case that laid the groundwork for people with disabilities to live their lives as fully included members of the community. The case addressed the Americans with Disabilities Act’s "integration mandate." The integration mandate requires all public entities, including the state of North Carolina, "administer services, programs, and activities" for people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the person’s needs. In the Olmstead ruling, the Supreme Court also urged states to develop a "comprehensive, effectively working plan" for transitioning people to the community. NCDHHS has initiated the development of its Olmstead Plan under the leadership of the Office of the Senior Advisor on the ADA.
An Olmstead Plan cannot remedy every need and challenge a state faces in serving and supporting individuals with disabilities. NCDHHS’ draft plan is intended to highlight how its current work, its future efforts and its use of resources are viewed through "an Olmstead lens" to achieve NCDHHS’ mission under this plan to "assist people with disabilities to reside in and experience the full benefit of inclusive communities." For more information, visit www.ncdhhs.gov/about/department-initiatives/nc-olmstead.