In 1999, the United States Supreme Court ruled the segregation of people with disabilities is illegal. This “Olmstead Decision” said that people with disabilities are best served alongside everyone else, in the community as much as possible, with the necessary supports.
On January 28, 2013, Governor Mark Dayton issued an Executive Order which established an Olmstead Subcabinet to develop and implement a comprehensive Minnesota Olmstead Plan. After several revisions and submissions, on September 29, 2015, the Court approved Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan.
Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan focuses on setting measurable goals in 13 topic areas in order to increase opportunities for people with disabilities to receive services that best meet their individual needs in the most integrated setting, and improve service delivery to promote a better quality of life.
The Plan’s topic areas are the following:
- Person-centered Planning
- Transition Services
- Housing and Services
- Lifelong Learning and Education
- Waiting Lists
- Healthcare and Healthy Living
- Positive Supports
- Crisis Services
- Community Engagement
Advocating Change Together (ACT), a disabilities rights organization based out of Saint Paul, has responded to the “Olmstead moment” by launching the Minnesota Olmstead Academy. The Academy is a 12-month program of classroom and fieldwork through which self-advocates are positioned as leaders within the state’s Olmstead Plan. The Olmstead Academy gives participants a hands-on opportunity to learn together and then go help spread the word about integration.
Meridian Services is very excited to have Connie Sauer, Delarie (Del) Harris, and their ally, Heather Ramos taking part in the Olmstead Academy! Throughout the year, this group will carry out an integration project in their own community, and will present these projects to United States Federal District Judge Donovan Frank at a public event in his chambers at the end of this year.
To date, this team has participated in a three day, two night conference in Saint Paul. This involved meeting the other six teams participating in the Academy, as well as beginning discussions about the history of Olmstead and integration projects. From this conference, the team was also introduced to the Side-by-Side People’s Chorus, which they are all now members of, and will be performing at the Capitol on May 10, 2016. The team will be heading back to St. Paul, for their second conference at the end of March. They will begin outlining the various aspects of their community integration project.