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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Community Integration

The National Disability Rights Network reports on monitoring by protection and advocacy (P&A) agencies in Alabama and North Carolina:
More than 10 years ago, the Supreme Court in L.C. v. Olmstead held that the anti-discrimination provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act are violated if states place individuals with disabilities in segregated institutions rather than more integrated community settings appropriate to their needs. Since then, the Bush Administration with the New Freedom Initiative, the Obama Administration with the “Year of Community Living,” and protection and advocacy agencies across the country have taken action to make the promise of Olmstead a reality.

This report - Keeping the Promise: True Community Integration and the Need for Monitoring and Advocacy - is the summary of two community monitoring projects that tracked individuals coming out of large institutions to live in the community. We wanted to know if their lives had improved. Is life better in the community? What new opportunities had they found? Were they safe?

Both P&As found that the individuals moving out of institutions into the community were generally happy with their new homes and enjoyed having more independence and a greater freedom of choice. Yet, the P&As also discovered environmental safety issues in the homes themselves ...

Beyond these safety concerns, there were quality of life issues as well. The P&As found some children were not receiving adequate education opportunities, people who wanted real jobs were stuck in day programs doing piecework. The findings demonstrate that institutions can be closed and individuals with disabilities moved into community settings, but their quality of life can be no more independent and integrated than their lives in institutions unless community integration efforts include P&A monitoring and advocacy.