Olmstead Massachusetts

Olmstead Massachusetts

In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999), indicating that states have a legal obligation to administer programs and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities. This decision recognized that a state may satisfy this obligation through development of a comprehensive, effective working plan for placing qualified persons with disabilities in less restrictive settings. These plans are known as Olmstead Plans. Our state is beginning to work on a new Olmstead plan and it is has sent out requests for listening sessions and advisory council members. The Arc’s testimony at the listening session will be posted here next week (week of June 26, 2017). Keep up with the state’s process here.

The Arc has utilized Olmstead both in its legislative and legal advocacy. Massachusetts policy makers have been responsive to our requests and most recently this has been reflected on the funding commitment for adult community services known as “Turning 22”.

The Commonwealth’s current Olmstead Plan was released in 2008. Policy makers have cited accomplishments such as:

  • Reducing the number of state schools
  • Reducing the number of state hospital beds
  • Closing sheltered workshops
  • Expanding capacity for services and supports that allow individuals with disabilities to live, work and spend leisure time in settings that are integrated into the community

You can view the previous Olmstead plan here.

The Commonwealth has stated that it “is committed to updating the plan to include timeframes and a multi-year road map to identify and address the need for additional community-based housing”. The recent posting noted that the new plan will:

  • Describe the state’s current system of providing community-based services and supports to people with disabilities
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of that system; and
  • Describe the state’s plan and goals for expanding opportunities for providing community-based services and supports to people with disabilities.
  • Identify Barriers, Perceived Barriers and Needs
  • Identify/Prioritize Solutions
  • Ensure draft plans include input from Stakeholders and are available for public review and comment

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