Department of Justice Reaches Agreement to Resolve Americans With Disabilities Act Investigation of West Virginia’s Children’s Mental Health System
The Department of Justice today announced that it reached an agreement with the State of West Virginia to resolve its conclusion that there is reasonable cause to believe the State violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by unnecessarily institutionalizing children with serious emotional or behavioral disorders in residential treatment facilities instead of providing them in-home and community-based mental health services. Under the agreement, West Virginia will expand and improve in-home and community-based mental health services throughout the State to better meet children’s needs. The services include mobile crisis services, case management, therapeutic foster care, in-home therapy, and assertive community treatment. In addition, West Virginia will develop a plan to eliminate the unnecessary use of residential mental treatment facilities for children whom the State could serve in the community.
“This settlement will ensure that children are no longer unnecessarily institutionalized in residential treatment facilities far from family and friends,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “We commend the State for its willingness to make changes to better serve children with mental health needs in the community.”
“This is a substantial, landmark agreement. It has been a long time coming and its impact will be felt for generations to come,” said Mike Stuart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia. “When I became United States Attorney, this matter had suffered with no agreement for more than four years. A settlement looked unlikely and, at times, near impossible. Today’s agreement reflects a genuine, shared commitment to children and families by the Department of Justice and the State of West Virginia, as well as a spirit of good faith and mutual respect between myself and Secretary Crouch. Let there be no doubt, the real winners here today are West Virginia’s children and families.”
“Children need and deserve stability, and staying at home while receiving treatment offers that and so much more,” said Bill Powell, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia. “This issue is vitally important to the families in our district and our great state. This agreement will keep families closer and we are gratified that the State will be taking significant steps to improve the current situation. Our children are some of our most vulnerable citizens and this agreement is a step in the right direction for them and their families.”
Additional information about the Civil Rights Division and the Special Litigation Section, please visit www.justice.gov/crt/special-litigation-section. Those interested in finding out more about the ADA may visit www.ada.gov.