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Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan Approved by United States District Court
Court Applauds Plan designed to help Minnesotans with disabilities live in the most integrated settings
ST. PAUL, MN – Today, Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan, which is designed to ensure that people with disabilities are able to live, learn, work, and enjoy life in the most integrated setting of their choosing, was approved by US District Judge Donovan Frank. The plan charts a course that will change the way state government provides services and supports for Minnesotans with disabilities.
In his ruling, Judge Frank wrote, “The Court applauds the parties for their collaboration in developing this landmark Olmstead Plan. Simply put, this revision of the Olmstead Plan is unlike any other version submitted to the Court. The Court fully expects the State to act on its promises to ensure that the Olmstead Plan will truly put the promise of Olmstead into practice across the state.”
“I thank the Court for approving Minnesota’s plan,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “We will continue to work hard to improve life opportunities for Minnesotans with disabilities.”
“Judge Frank’s decision is a step towards helping Minnesotans with disabilities enjoy the full range of options available. Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan will help ensure all people have a voice in the decisions that ultimately determine their quality of life,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “We still have more work to do and that’s what the implementation of this plan is focused on doing.”
The newly approved comprehensive plan recognizes that Minnesotans with disabilities want the chance to make informed choices about their lives and the opportunity to live in the most integrated setting they choose. It calls for expanding integrated housing, employment, and education options that will result in greater inclusion of people with disabilities in our communities. It also honors decisions of people with disabilities who may choose options that are not integrated.
“Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan is focused on providing individuals with disabilities more opportunities to experience lives of inclusion and integration in their communities – just like people without disabilities,” said Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal, and Olmstead Subcabinet Chair. “Judge Frank’s approval of the plan marks an important step in achieving that goal.”
Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan further identifies and addresses barriers to full integration that people with disabilities face. To ensure progress is made, the plan outlines specific actionable goals and timeframes to measure progress.
“This is a victory for Minnesotans with disabilities,” said Darlene Zangara, Olmstead Implementation Office executive director. “We look forward to moving ahead with its implementation and ensuring that all Minnesotans are able to live, learn, work and enjoy life in inclusive communities.”
Next steps for the implementation of Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan will include public reports on the progress toward measurable goals, allowing the public to monitor the plan. The Olmstead Subcabinet will submit work plans by October 10, 2015 and the court will review and approve implementation of the plan based on recommendations from US Magistrate Judge Becky R. Thorson.
Another key step is creating an annual Quality of Life Survey of people with disabilities to determine how well they are integrated into and engaged with their community, how much autonomy they have in day to day decision making, and gauge if they are working and living in the most integrated setting they choose. The initial survey will be completed in 2016.
What is Olmstead?
Minnesota has long been a leader in services for people with disabilities and continues examining opportunities to help people live as independently as they choose. As part of a 2011 federal court settlement involving the treatment of clients at a Department of Human Services facility, it was agreed that an Olmstead Plan would be developed for Minnesota.
In January 2013, Governor Mark Dayton issued an executive order, forming an Olmstead Subcabinet and directing agencies to develop and implement an Olmstead Plan. The Subcabinet provides direction and oversight of the development and implementation of the Olmstead Plan, monitors the impact of the activities of state agencies and delivery agents such as counties and providers, and works closely with the Olmstead Implementation Office.
The Subcabinet includes high-level representatives from eight state agencies, including: Human Services, Housing, Employment and Economic Development, Transportation, Corrections, Health, Human Rights, and Education, and representatives from the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. Developing a comprehensive and effective working plan to increase integration will ensure the continued compliance with the letter and spirit of the Olmstead decision and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Visit the website or view the full plan, Putting the Promise of Olmstead into Practice: Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan (PDF) or Olmstead Plan Measurable Goals at a Glance (PDF) for more information. [Link no longer available]