The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on August 23, 2012 that it had reached a settlement agreement with the state of North Carolina to improve its services for people with mental illness. Under the agreement, North Carolina will expand community-based services and supportive housing for people with mental disabilities over the next eight years. The state will establish a pre-admission screening process to prevent people from unnecessarily entering institutional settings, and it will create a person-centered institutional discharge planning process to help people move smoothly to community-based settings.
Specifically, the state will provide integrated supportive services to 3,000 people, expand its Assertive Community Treatment teams to serve 5,000 individuals and provide a range of crisis services. In addition, North Carolina will expand integrated employment opportunities for people with mental disabilities by providing supported employment services to 2,500 individuals.
DOJ undertook an investigation of North Carolina’s mental health service system in 2010 and issued a formal letter of findings in July 2011. The letter stated “the State fails to provide services to individuals with mental illness in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs in violation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)” and that “[t]he State plans, structures, and administers its mental health service system to deliver services to thousands of persons with mental illness in large, segregated adult care homes, and to allocate funding to serve individuals in adult care homes rather than in integrated settings.” The letter outlined the steps necessary for the state to meet its obligations under the ADA.
The 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision held that Title II of the ADA prohibits unjustified segregation of individuals with disabilities. The court directed public entities serving qualified individuals who have mental or physical disabilities to provide services in community settings rather than in institutions.
Click here to view a DOJ media release.
Click here to view the settlement agreement.
The Department of Justice Olmstead webpage also contains a settlement agreement fact sheet and the formal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, click here to view.
Click here to view the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law’s Olmstead webpage.
Click here to view the Technical Assistance Collaborative’s The Olmstead Decision and Housing: Opportunity Knocks.