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NCD Launches Toolkit to Speed Closure of State-Run Institutions

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

“Deinstitutionalization: Unfinished Business” Resources in Moving from Institutions to Independence

Oct. 23 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, October 23, the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency, released its latest policy project –“Deinstitutionalization:  Unfinished Business” – which includes an online toolkit and companion paper to provide advocates and policymakers with the tools they need to facilitate closures of state-run institutions and meet the needs of people with intellectual, developmental and other disabilities as they transition into the community. 

The toolkit and accompanying paper acknowledges numerous federal and state reforms that have occurred since June 22, 1999 when the United States Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Olmstead decision that the unjustified institutional isolation of people with disabilities is unlawful discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

With the launch of the of “Deinstitutionalization: Unfinished Business” online toolkit and companion paper, NCD seeks to provide advocates and policymakers with information they need to develop a workable plan for closing institutions, strategies for implementing the plan, and tips to debunk myths and counter arguments that have been used against closing institutions, in order to support Americans with disabilities and their families in the quest to lead to a richer, more integrated life in the community.

“In my home state of Oregon, all adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities live in the community because we have no institutions.  Not one person with a disability has asked that we reopen our large state institutions,” said Sara Gelser, National Council on Disability Member and Oregon State Representative. “There is simply no good reason to maintain institutions in the 21st century.  They deprive individuals with disabilities of their civil rights while diverting sorely needed resources from essential community based services for people with disabilities.”  

“Operating large state institutions, which cost three to six times the price tag of inclusive housing is both a fiscal and moral tragedy,” said Gary Blumenthal, NCD member. “Strengthening self-direction and community living serves Americans with disabilities and our communities at large.  A more inclusive, fiscally sound future requires our state and local communities to use every limited tax dollar in the most effective ways possible. That means continuing the trend to move people with disabilities out of state-run institutions and into their own homes. NCD hopes this toolkit will be useful in facilitating this necessary social and economic shift.” 

How was “Deinstitutionalization: Unfinished Business” prepared? 

In addition to conducting interviews and focus groups, NCD facilitated two case studies in the field:  Oregon, which has closed all state institutions, and Georgia, which has just begun the process as part of its Olmstead settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.  

Key findings: 

  • The cost to provide services to people in the outdated mode of institutional settings far exceeds the cost to provide services in the community, and research consistently demonstrates that people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (ID/DD) achieve better outcomes in community settings.
  • Ten states and the District of Columbia have no large state institutions and provide care in the community to people with intellectual disabilities and/or developmental disabilities (ID/DD) regardless of the severity of their disabilities.
  • Other states continue to maintain facilities and deliver services in institutions, despite most families’ preference for community-based services.  

“Deinstitutionalization: Unfinished Business” is dedicated to the memory of Susan M. Daniels, who was an extraordinary leader and advocate for equal opportunity, full participation, and the economic empowerment of people with disabilities worldwide.

An official website of the National Council on Disability