Work to implement an Olmstead Plan in Minnesota will continue, with an executive order issued January 28 by Gov. Mark Dayton and the appointment of a new chairperson. Dayton signed Executive Order 15-03 to continue the state’s Olmstead Sub-Cabinet. For more than two years, the group has worked to develop and implement a comprehensive Olmstead Plan for Minnesota.
The plan will support the freedom of choice and opportunity to live, work and participate in the most inclusive setting for individuals with disabilities. As part of the order Dayton designated Commissioner of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) Mary Tingerthal to chair the sub-cabinet. The governor also designated Roberta Opheim of the Office of the Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, and Colleen Wieck, Executive Director of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities as sub-cabinet ex officio members.
The sub-cabinet was created by executive order in 2013.
The new order replaces the original directive. “We must continue to improve services and support for people with disabilities,” said Dayton. “I am confident that Commissioner Tingerthal will be an effective leader of the Olmstead Sub-Cabinet. I thank each state agency for their work on this important initiative, and former Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon, who previously chaired the Sub-Cabinet and led this important effort during her time in office.”
Prettner Solon didn’t seek re-election last fall with Dayton and chaired her last sub-cabinet meeting in December 2014. The latest executive order includes directives for Tingerthal to work closely with the Olmstead Implementation Office and bring forward information to the full sub-cabinet.
All states are required to have Olmstead plans, as a result of a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision. In December of 2011, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) and plaintiffs in the Jensen et al versus DHS case entered into a settlement agreement that requires the development of a Minnesota Olmstead Plan. The legal dispute centered on mistreatment of residents at the now-closed Minnesota Extended Treatment Options facility in Cambridge.
A planning committee appointed as part of the settlement began meeting to work on the state plan in 2012 and presented a report to state officials in October of that year. One committee recommendation was that Dayton set up a sub-cabinet to ensure effective interstate agency work to prepare and implement an Olmstead Plan.
The order is similar to the 2013 governor’s directive. It calls for the sub-cabinet to provide oversight of the implementation, modification, and improvement of Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan, and to ensure Minnesotans with disabilities and members of the public are involved and included in its work. The state’s progress toward implementing the Olmstead Plan to U.S. District Court is also to be monitored.
Commissioners of DHS, MHFA, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Department of Transportation, Department of Corrections, Department of Health, Department of Human Rights, and Department of Education serve on the sub-cabinet, along with the ex officio state officials. Tingerthal has been active on the group since it began.
The four-page order states that “Minnesota is committed to ensuring that inclusive, community-based services are available to individuals with disabilities of all ages” and calls for such services to “advance the best interests of all Minnesotans by fostering independence, freedom of choice, productivity, and participation in community life of Minnesotans with disabilities.”
The sub-cabinet is to provide oversight for and monitor the implementation and modification of the Olmstead Plan, and the impact of the plan on the lives of people with disabilities. It is also to provide recommendations on an ongoing basis to modify the plan and ensure coordination between state agencies. It also is to conduct periodic public meetings on the plan and needed modifications and engage persons with disabilities and other interested parties in plan implementation and modification.
Part of the executive order restates the need to develop a quality improvement plan that details methods the sub-cabinet must use to conduct ongoing quality of life measurement and needs assessments and implement quality improvement structures. There is also a requirement to set up a process to review existing state policies, procedures, laws and funding, and any proposed legislation, to ensure compliance with the plan and advise state agencies.
Yet another requirement is to establish a process to more efficiently and effectively respond to reports from the court and the court monitor. ■
To read the full order, go here.