Community Integration!

by   |   Tue, May 10th, 2016

Community Integration Blog

Kyle Wells, Service & Support Supervisor

Over the past several years there has been a growing emphasis on attempting to integrate people with DD/ID into the community. On April 8, 2014, the United States entered into the nation's first statewide settlement agreement vindicating the civil rights of individuals with disabilities who are unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs. The settlement agreement with the State of Rhode Island resolves the Civil Rights Division's January 6, 2014 findings, as part of an ADA Olmstead investigation that the State's day activity service system over-relies on segregated settings, including sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs, to the exclusion of integrated alternatives, such as supported employment and integrated day services. Doesn't that sound complicated?

So what does all of this mean for people in Ohio and more specifically Tuscarawas County? In our County we have a number of Day Habilitation Providers offering various services for people with DD/ID. They all do good work and we are fortunate to have them, but does the Olmstead Investigation mean that they are going to have to "close shop?" Not so fast. We finally have some clarification of what "integration" means or at least what it doesn't mean according to the Centers for Medicaid.

What the rule does NOT require:
1. All workshops and day programs will close.
2. 100% of all day program supports must be provided in fully integrated community settings.
3. All providers must provide community employment services.
4. Everyone is required to work in community based settings.
5. Individuals cannot spend time during the day with others with DD/ID.
6. When working in the community, no other day program options will be available.
7. People will be required to spend a certain amount of their time in a certain number of community based activities each day/week/month.

So what is required by waiver providers? When reading through it all, there seems to be a recurring theme and that is to make a sincere, concentrated effort to offer community oriented activities/employment for people with disabilities. Providers should be offering meaningful opportunities that support people's personal interests and outcomes. People should have greater opportunities to try new things, make informed choices, and be heard when they express these choices.

Make no mistake about it; the Centers for Medicaid will expect to see honest sincere efforts by providers and County Boards to acquaint/expose people with disabilities to their community. Stay tuned as there is certain to be more details regarding what these efforts should look like. In the meantime, we can be pro-active partners (Providers, Families, Businesses & County Boards) in creating new and innovative ways to enrich the lives of our friends, family members, employees and fellow citizens.

Tue, May 10th, 2016