August 25th, 2012
February 16th, 2012
February 15, 2012
Today, The Arc of Virginia released its letter to Governor McDonnell regarding Virginia’s recent settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. In its letter, The Arc thanked Governor McDonnell for his leadership on reforming Virginia’s system of support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) and for his commitment to reaching a settlement agreement with the U.S Department of Justice. The Arc emphasized the importance of a safe, responsible transition process moving forward and also urged further action to address the ID/DD waiver waiting list crisis.
The Arc of Virginia expressed its full support for the agreement’s focus on serving individuals in the most integrated settings, calling the settlement “a visible and important milestone in Virginia’s long journey towards community care for its citizens with ID/DD.” The Arc underscored the importance of the agreement’s provisions related to quality assurance, risk management, discharge planning and oversight and described them as key components of the transition process. The Arc stated that such requirements “will help ensure that this transition is safe, successful and person-centered, improving quality of life for those transitioning while simultaneously strengthening a more cost effective service system.”
The Arc also pointed out the need for further action in order to address the unresolved ID/DD Waiver waiting list crisis. There are currently more than 7,000 with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are on waiting lists for community-based services, many living with aging caregivers. The ID Waiver waiting list alone is growing at a pace of 800 people per year. “The ID/DD Waivers required by the settlement are grossly insufficient to meet current and projected need,” said The Arc of Virginia President Glenn Slack. “Moving forward, we hope your Administration will support any additional ID and DD Waivers that may be added above the DOJ requirements so that Virginia can keep pace with current growth and fulfill its commitment to eliminate the waiting lists.”
Finally, The Arc of Virginia asked the Governor to ensure that the cost savings achieved by the transition remain dedicated to supporting people with ID/DD. The Arc proposes combining all current ID facility and ID/DD Wavier funds and moving them into a protected DBHDS trust fund in order to facilitate successful transitions, reduce the waiting lists and rectify inadequate provider payment rates. The Arc believes that doing so would also allow greater flexibility to respond to the DOJ requirements.
About The Arc of Virginia:
Established in 1955, The Arc of Virginia is a statewide advocacy organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. The Arc of Virginia is a state chapter of The Arc, the nation’s oldest and largest organization for people with ID/DD, and is composed of twenty-five local chapters from around the Commonwealth.
February 11th, 2012
Can YOU promote positive change and challenge misconceptions about disability employment? Show us! The Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) has launched a nationwide “What can YOU do?” Video Contest to promote the talent and skills that people with disabilities bring to America’s workforce and economy. This is your opportunity to produce a video that illustrates that at work, it’s what people CAN do that matters.
The CDE is looking for creative, fun, compelling videos of all genres that reflect the diversity of skills that people with disabilities offer, challenge misconceptions about disability and employment, and/or highlight employers’ inclusive employment programs and practices. The CDE will recognize winners in up to three specific categories (General Public, Youth and Employer), and the public will be encouraged to select a People’s Choice winner.
The deadline for entry is March 30, 2012. Videos should be one to three minutes in length (depending on the category entered) and reflect one or more of the campaign’s key themes, which are outlined on the contest website, www.WhatCanYouDoCampaign.org/videocontest. Several selected videos may be showcased on the CDE’s website and at future campaign events.
February 3rd, 2012
Please CALL the legislators in your local chapter delegation with the following message:
“The ID and DD Waiver waiting lists must remain a priority. Please support funding for additional ID/DD Waivers beyond what is outlined by the DOJ agreement. More than 7,000 people are waiting for ‘A Life Like Yours’”
Use one of these talking points…
• More than 7,000 Virginians with ID/DD are on waiting list for The DOJ agreement
only requires 200 Waivers per year.
• More than 1,000 individuals on the list have been waiting 5 years.
• The waiting list is growing at a pace of more than 2 people per day.
• If Virginia only funds what is required in the agreement, our waiting list will exceed
10,000 by the end of the agreement. This is a 92% increase.”
Thanks so much for your help!
January 27th, 2012
~ Thursday, January 26, 2012
Good morning. Thank you for joining us today. In the Civil Rights Division, we are in the opportunity business. We expand opportunities in a wide range of areas, and today’s agreement provides opportunity that will transform the Commonwealth of Virginia’s system for delivering services to individuals with developmental disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, and improve the lives of thousands of Virginians with developmental disabilities.
More than a decade ago, in its landmark ruling in the case of Olmstead v. L.C., the Supreme Court ruled that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, states must serve individuals with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. The decision, which has been called the Brown v. Board of Education of the disability rights movement, recognized that failing to give people with disabilities a meaningful opportunity to live in the community instead of in an institution is discrimination under the ADA. The Supreme Court recognized that unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities deprives them of the opportunities people without disabilities take for granted, like making friends, working, and participating in community life.
Freedom and opportunity proved elusive, and the promise of Olmstead was not realized. In 2008, DOJ opened an investigation of the Commonwealth of Virginia Training Centers. In 2009, we expanded that review to examine statewide practices. We issued a letter of findings in 2011. We found that Virginia was unnecessarily institutionalizing people with developmental disabilities and placing others at risk of institutionalization. Following our letter, we immediately began discussions with Governor McDonnell.
Today’s agreement will bring Virginia into compliance with the ADA and the Olmstead decision and provide improved community living options for people with disabilities and their families by building a comprehensive, community-based system that can meet the needs of all individuals with developmental disabilities, including those with the most complex needs. The agreement will provide a wide range of services to prevent the institutionalization of individuals with developmental disabilities who want to remain in their own homes and communities. The agreement will also ensure that individuals currently in institutions will have a real opportunity to receive community services that meet their needs.
I want to thank Governor McDonnell for his leadership in reaching this landmark agreement. This agreement incorporates the Commonwealth’s own vision and goals for its developmental disabilities system. The trust fund recently created and funded with $60 million dollars was concrete evidence of Governor McDonnell’s commitment to implementing this agreement. I would also like to thank Attorney General Cuccinelli, Secretary Hazel, and Commissioner Stewart and their staff for their role in crafting this agreement. In addition, I would like to thank United States Attorneys MacBride and Heaphy and their staff for their assistance to us.
Virginia is a state with strong and committed advocates who have long been pushing for improvement of the Commonwealth’s developmental disabilities system. Throughout our investigation, we met with stakeholders across the Commonwealth, to learn about what is and is not working for people with developmental disabilities. We heard their problems and concerns, and ideas for addressing them, as well as their successes. We heard from families who are barely hanging on while their loved ones sit on long waitlists for community services and from self-advocates wanting more opportunities to work and live independently. We heard from the families of persons now living in institutional settings who worry whether the needs of their loved ones can be met in community settings. We also met with some individuals, including some with complex needs, who are being successfully served in the community. Our agreement draws on the input from these critical stakeholders about how to best meet the needs of all Virginians with developmental disabilities. Continued collaboration with and input from these stakeholders will be a critical part of the implementation of the agreement.
There are two primary goals of the agreement:
This agreement is a win-win-win for the Commonwealth and the people of Virginia. First, it fulfills the Commonwealth’s legal obligation to comply with the ADA’s civil rights requirements. Second, it fulfills its fiscal obligation to Virginia taxpayers. By expanding cost-effective community-based services and reducing its reliance on expensive, institutional care, the Commonwealth will be able to use its limited resources to meet the needs of a larger number of its citizens with developmental disabilities. Finally, the agreement will serve the Commonwealth’s moral interest in serving people with developmental disabilities in the way most conducive to independence and full participation in community life. In short, this agreement enables the commonwealth to serve more people in a better fashion, and to spend scarce dollars in a more effective manner.
The agreement will provide relief for more than 5,000 Virginians with developmental disabilities and will have an impact on thousands more individuals receiving developmental disability services. The agreement will create a total of approximately 4,200 home and community-based waivers for people who are on waitlists for community services and individuals transitioning from institutional settings over a ten year period. Almost 3,000 of these waivers will be targeted to individuals with intellectual disabilities on the waitlist or youth with intellectual disabilities in private facilities; another 450 waivers will be targeted to individuals with non-intellectual developmental disabilities on the waitlist or youth in private facilities; and another 800 waivers will be targeted to individuals choosing to leave the training centers. An additional 1,000 individuals on waitlists for community services will receive family supports to help provide care in their family home or their own home.
Under the agreement, the Commonwealth will also create a comprehensive community crisis system with a full range of crisis services — including a hotline, mobile crisis teams, and crisis stabilization programs — to divert individuals from unnecessary institutionalization or other out-of-home placements. The agreement requires the Commonwealth to develop and implement an “Employment First” policy to prioritize and expand real work opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. In addition, the agreement will create an $800,000 fund for housing assistance to facilitate opportunities for independent living for people with developmental disabilities. Finally, the agreement requires the Commonwealth to create a strong and comprehensive quality and risk management system to ensure that community-based services are safe and effective.
The agreement is court enforceable and will be monitored by an independent reviewer that was jointly selected by the United States and the Commonwealth. The independent reviewer has a broad range of experience in disability service systems, including as superintendent of a state-operated facility, regional director charged with developing a range of community services, and executive director of a provider of community services to individuals with the most complex needs.
Today’s agreement is part of a broad, nationwide effort to enforce the Olmstead decision. In the last three years, the Civil Rights Division has joined or initiated litigation to ensure community-based services in more than 35 matters in 2o states. And we have investigations pending in a number of other states. We reached comprehensive agreements with the states of Georgia and Delaware that, like the agreement with Virginia, provide broad relief for thousands of individuals with disabilities. Our enforcement covers a wide range of settings – from state-operated centers for people with developmental disabilities, to state psychiatric hospitals, to state-funded private adult care homes and nursing homes, to segregated day programs. It also covers a broad range of populations – from people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to people with mental illness, to people with physical disabilities.
This is a landmark agreement, a blueprint for sustainable reform, and a model for ADA Olmstead enforcement going forward.
Today’s agreement will allow Virginia to avoid costly litigation and move directly to providing the services that its citizens with disabilities need to live in their communities and to have opportunities like people without disabilities. Across the country during the deinstitutionalization movement of the 1970s and 1980s, doors were opened. But the community infrastructure was lacking, and the promise of integration for people with developmental disabilities remained elusive. We can – and must – do better as a nation, and this agreement will serve as a national model for efforts moving forward.
The Commonwealth and its leadership are to be commended for their leadership in tackling this problem, and I thank them for their cooperation. This agreement is about choice, opportunity, expanded services and quality assurance. We look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and with community stakeholders in order to implement this historic agreement
January 26th, 2012
TO: Stakeholders in the Virginia System of Services for Individuals with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities
FROM: James W. Stewart, III, DBHDS Commissioner
DATE: January 26, 2012
RE: Commonwealth of Virginia and U.S. Department of Justice Settlement Agreement
Today, Governor McDonnell announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia has reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). DOJ began an investigation in 2008 that was expanded to cover Virginia’s entire system of services for citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including all five training centers and community services. In its February 2011 findings letter, DOJ concluded that Virginia is not providing services in the most integrated and appropriate setting, is not developing a sufficient quantity of community services, and has a flawed discharge process at training centers. Since the findings letter, Virginia has been negotiating with DOJ to achieve a settlement agreement that ensures quality services for our citizens with developmental disabilities and avoids an extremely costly and lengthy court battle that would utilize monies needed to serve our citizens through direct support and services.
The settlement agreement includes the creation of 4,170 new Medicaid Waiver slots for individuals transitioning from training centers to the community and for the planned growth in the number of Waiver slots for those on the waiting list. The agreement also expands accountability and oversight in the community. Also, the agreement calls for the creation of an individual and family support program for 1,000 families each year to ensure that families who are assisting family members with intellectual disability/developmental disabilities (ID/DD) or individuals who live independently have access to some supports to continue to live at home; full implementation will occur in FY2014.
In addition, and in accordance with Virginia’s long-standing policy to transition to a community-based system of care, it is very important for you to know Virginia will provide a plan to cease residential operations at four of Virginia’s training centers by 2020. As such, a timeline has been developed for the closure of four of Virginia’s five training centers. These facilities will not be closed immediately as it takes time to ensure that individuals are moved safely into community homes that they choose and that are appropriate for their needs. The schedule for training center closure is as follows:
Southside Virginia Training Center (SVTC) Closes
Northern Virginia Training Center (NVTC) Closes
Southwestern Virginia Training Center (SWVTC) Closes
Central Virginia Training Center (CVTC) Closes
Southeastern Virginia Training Center (SEVTC) in Chesapeake, VA will remain open with a maximum census of 75 beds.
DBHDS will be working very closely with the individuals in training centers and their families and authorized representatives to ensure a safe, successful transition to the community in accordance with their choice. In addition, our human resources office will be helping training center staff throughout this time of transition.
You will find more information about the settlement agreement and transition plans on our DBHDS Web site at www.dbhds.virginia.gov/settlement.htm. This site will be updated periodically as new information becomes available so that you can stay informed on Virginia’s progress.
A great deal of effort will be required by many individuals and organizations across the Commonwealth as we ensure compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement. We firmly believe that the result of the actions we have taken already and will be taking as a result of the settlement agreement will enable more individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to have the opportunity to thrive, living a life that is more integrated into the local community. In addition, the system of services that will be in place will be one that utilizes public funds more effectively and efficiently. We look forward to working together with you for a brighter future for Virginians with disabilities and their families.
James W. Stewart, III
Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services