Home Local News 2024-25 Olmstead Plan to improve choice, community-based services for people with I/DD

2024-25 Olmstead Plan to improve choice, community-based services for people with I/DD

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RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today published the 2024-25 Olmstead Plan to improve community inclusion for people with disabilities. Designed in partnership with key stakeholders and people with lived experience across the state, the plan advances the work to ensure people with disabilities have the resources they need to live and thrive in the communities of their choice.

The Olmstead Plan serves as a blueprint for the way NCDHHS and its partners make decisions to improve the lives of children and families, youth, adults and older adults with disabilities in North Carolina. In alignment with the U.S. Supreme Court’s imperative for community integration in the Olmstead v. L.C. decision, the goal is to divert people with disabilities from entering institutions and support those wishing to leave by offering a full array of community-based living services.

“We want to provide the right services at the right time so people with disabilities can choose where and how to live their best lives,” said NC Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “The Olmstead Plan is our commitment to build a North Carolina where every community is accessible, inclusive and welcoming.”

Choice and inclusion are a key priority for NCDHHS and part of the department’s overall efforts to improve behavioral health and resilience for children and families in North Carolina. After securing a historic $835 million investment in behavioral health and home and community-based supports through the 2023 state budget, the department moved quickly to increase NC Medicaid reimbursement rates for the first time in 10 years and invest in the direct service workforce — critical steps forward in improving access to services for people with disabilities.

The ongoing work to transform North Carolina’s behavioral health system will continue to benefit people with disabilities and their families by increasing the resources and support services available in communities across the state.

“People with disabilities have a right to the whole-person care and support they need to live within inclusive communities,” said Kelly Crosbie, MSW, LCSW, Director of the NCDHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Use Services. “It’s our responsibility to ensure access to the community-based services that make this right a reality.”

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The 2024-25 Olmstead Plan, as well as its outcomes, data and related initiatives, will help shape NCDHHS’ policy, practices and funding decisions to better support independence, integration and self-determination for people with disabilities. The strategic plan builds on the 2022-23 Olmstead Plan as well as recent initiatives in North Carolina to support choice and inclusion.

In 2023, NCDHHS received approval for the 1915(i) State Plan Amendment, increasing opportunities for people with behavioral health needs, intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and traumatic brain injury to receive supported employment, respite, community living and supports, and community transition services. Additionally, the department introduced Inclusion Works, an ongoing initiative to advance the right to work by promoting competitive integrated employment and fair pay for people with I/DD. Announced last month, NCDHHS is also developing the Inclusion Connects website, a centralized resource to help people with I/DD find and get connected to community-based services in their area.

In addition to recent initiatives, the department continues to build on the foundation of the Transitions to Community Living and Money Follows the Person programs and expand the work to address social determinants of health at the heart of the Healthy Opportunities initiative.

“By providing services that ensure equitable access to housing, transportation and community integration, we empower people with disabilities to choose their own path for their life,” said NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for Health Equity and Chief Health Equity Officer Debra Farrington. “We appreciate the many partners across North Carolina whose voices and perspectives are so critical in our ability to move this work forward.”

The 2024-25 Olmstead Plan was developed in collaboration with the Olmstead Plan Stakeholder Advisory (OPSA), whose external stakeholders meet quarterly to advise on all aspects of the plan. Since the inception of the OPSA, at least 50% of the group’s stakeholder membership has been represented by people with lived experience and family members of people with disabilities.

The department is grateful to the members of the OPSA for sharing their expertise and insight to ensure the Olmstead Plan aligns with and reflects the priorities of families who are directly impacted by the availability of disability support services in North Carolina. The initiatives included in the two-year plan will guide a changing system of resources and services to build more inclusive communities welcoming of people with disabilities.