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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Justice Department Obtains Comprehensive ADA Agreement Regarding the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Developmental Disabilities System

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced that it has entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement that will transform the Commonwealth of Virginia’s system for serving people with developmental disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, and will resolve violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA and the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Olmstead v. L.C., individuals with disabilities have the right to receive services in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs. The ADA and Olmstead require states to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to live and receive services in the community instead of in institutions.  

“As affirmed by the Supreme Court over a decade ago, people with disabilities should be given the same opportunities to participate in community life as those without disabilities,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “This agreement will enable people in Virginia who have developmental disabilities to live successfully in their homes and communities. I commend Governor McDonnell for his long-standing leadership on this issue, and we will continue to work with states around the country, as we have with Georgia, Delaware and Virginia, to ensure that people with disabilities are given the choice to live in community-based settings.”

The agreement expands community-based services so that Virginia can serve people with developmental disabilities in their own homes, their family’s homes or other integrated community settings. The agreement will provide relief for more than 5,000 Virginians with developmental disabilities and will have an impact on thousands more individuals receiving developmental disability services. Over the next 10 years, Virginia will expand community services by providing home and community-based Medicaid waivers to nearly 4,200 individuals; providing family supports to 1,000 individuals currently living in the community; and expanding and deepening its crisis services, including a hotline, mobile crisis teams and short term crisis stabilization programs. This expansion will provide individuals the opportunity to transition successfully from its five state-operated training centers to community settings that can meet their needs and prevent new people from being unnecessarily institutionalized. 

The agreement will also expand opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to live independently through a fund for housing assistance and enhanced coordination of existing rental assistance programs. Virginia will also offer other supports for community living, including supported employment. Finally, Virginia will implement a comprehensive, robust quality and risk management system to ensure that people are safe, receive the supports and services they need, and have opportunities for real community inclusion. The agreement is court enforceable, and compliance will be monitored by an independent reviewer with extensive experience in developmental disability systems. 

The settlement follows a Department of Justice investigation of the commonwealth’s developmental disabilities system, from which the department issued a letter of findings on Feb. 10, 2011, that outlines violations of the ADA. During the investigation and while negotiating the settlement, the Justice Department met with a wide range of stakeholders throughout the commonwealth, including individuals living in the training centers and in the community, their families, nonprofit and for-profit service providers, community service boards, researchers and advocacy groups. The commonwealth worked cooperatively with the Justice Department to negotiate a settlement resolving alleged violations of the ADA. 

The Civil Rights Division enforces the ADA, which authorizes the attorney general to investigate whether a state is serving individuals in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs. Please visit www.ada.gov/olmstead to learn more about the division’s ADA Olmstead enforcement efforts and www.justice.gov/crt to learn more about the other laws enforced by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The agreement in this case is due to the efforts of the following division staff:  Alison Barkoff, Special Counsel for Olmstead Enforcement; Jonathan Smith, Chief; Benjamin Tayloe, Deputy Chief; Aaron Zisser and Jacqueline Cuncannan, Trial Attorneys; Joan Yost, Investigator; and Yvonnie Demmerritte, Paralegal Specialist.

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