#AdvocacyMatters: Closed Chapter, Opening Doors

January 14, 2022 / #AdvocacyMatters

Nearly six years ago, DRO took a major step in giving life to our mission by filing the landmark class action Ball vs. DeWine lawsuit on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities who were unnecessarily segregated in residential facilities or at risk of segregation. The suit was centered on expanding access to home- and community-based services for those wanting to live and receive services in an integrated setting. Driven by the fact that Ohioans who asked to be moved out of a residential facility and into the community with the supports they needed faced a median wait time of 13 years to receive the community-based services they needed to do so, the necessity of change was clear.

In 2019, we had reached a settlement with the state, designed to increase class members’ access to community-based supports. It also expanded access to information about service options, including options for living and working in the community. “When people with developmental disabilities ask for help and are given no other option but to live in an institution, away from their families and friends, that is segregation,” said Kerstin Sjoberg, DRO Executive Director. “This has always been a case centered not only on freedom of choice, but also ensuring the services and supports are there so people’s choices could be realized.”

Last week, we shared with you that the Honorable Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio has issued an order ending the case as part of the parties’ settlement agreement. The changes brought about by this action opened doors of opportunity for hundreds of Ohioans with disabilities to live and receive services in home or community-based settings. Ensuring that people have more choices for where and how they want to receive care and services is central to our mission and at the core of our work and because #AdvocacyMatters, we’ll keep pushing until all Ohioans with disabilities are able to live, work, learn, go, and receive services where and how they choose.

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