Many proposals to address abuse and neglect, and provide more access to assistive technology, are included in the latest update to the state’s Olmstead Plan. U.S. District County Judge Donovan Frank issued his latest order on the plan June 21, in response to a June 6 biannual status conference. Frank approved the plan updates in the two areas, and also gave approval to reporting deadlines, approval of Olmstead Subcabinet goals and other technical measures.
Every state is required to have an Olmstead Plan, which outlines ways to full integrate people with disabilities into the community. Minnesota’s current version of the plan has been in the works for almost five years, under the direction of the Olmstead Subcabinet appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton.
The conference was held for the court to hear updates on the plan, as well as its comprehensive plan of action and on the Jensen settlement agreement. The latter is a legal settlement ordered in response to alleged mistreatment of residents of the now-closed Minnesota Extended Treatment Options facility in Cambridge.
Frank’s order shows mixed reactions to progress on the measures, with the go-ahead to make changes to reporting deadlines and the subcabinet’s goal adoption deadlines. The judge is prodding for more work in some areas and for the status quo in other areas.
On the June plan updates, Frank wrote, “The Court is grateful to all those involved for diligently working to craft the plan and the initial goals that address the critical topics of assistive technology and prevention of abuse and neglect. Assistive technology is an essential resource for ensuring that individuals with disabilities can live fully integrated lives within their communities, and successful integration of individuals with disabilities requires, above all that such individuals be protected from all forms of abuse and neglect.”
“These topics are essential for the state to responsibly ensure that the Olmstead Plan achieves its laudable purpose. With its new goals and strategies on these topics, the Subcabinet and DHS’s commitment to continued improvement in verification, and the continued amendment process built into the plan, the Court is hopeful that the updated Olmstead Plan will result in measurable improvements in the lives of individuals with disabilities throughout the state.” The two topic areas were set aside for more work last year, when the plan went for a court approval.
The 154-page plan now contains numerous measures, goals and timelines to address the abuse and neglect prevention concerns, as well as improving access to assistive technology. Changes drew on public comments as well as work by the Olmstead Subcabinet, a group with representatives from every state department. Five people commented at a public hearing this spring and another 25 submitted written comments. One complaint was that the comment period, of only a few days, was too short.
One of many ambitious goals tied to preventing abuse and neglect must be met by September 30. By that date the Olmstead Subcabinet will approve a comprehensive abuse and neglect prevention plan, designed to educate people with disabilities and their families and guardians, all mandated reporters, and the general public on how to identify, report and prevent abuse of people with disabilities.
This plan will contain several elections, including information and training on the use of the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center. Recommendations regarding a “Stop Abuse” campaign and proposals regarding the feasibility for creating a system for reporting abuse of children are part of the plan. Another part of this plan calls for analysis of data to develop materials for public awareness and targeted prevention activities and a timetable for implementation of each element of the abuse prevention plan. Recommendations for developing common definitions and metrics related to maltreatment annual goals will be established based on the timetable set forth in the abuse prevention plan.
Another goal, by January 31, 2020, is to decrease by 50 percent the number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations of vulnerable adults due to abuse and neglect. This goal includes shorter-term goals to set a baseline and work gradually toward a reduction. Similar timelines are set to reduce repeated incidents of neglect or abuse, and to reduce incidents in schools identified to have had three or more investigations of alleged maltreatment of a student with a disability within the three preceding years
One key change for assistive technology is a goal that by June 30, 2020, 80 percent of students in 31 target school districts will meet required protocols for effective consideration of assistive technology in the student’s individualized education program (IEP). Protocols will be based upon the “Special factors” requirement as described in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004.
The plan also contains shorter-term goals for assistive technology, for Minnesotans of all ages, in education, workplaces, homes and community settings. A key to improving access to assistive technology is to work closely through person-centered planning and transition services.
To see documents related to the Olmstead plan, go here.