Together for Choice
Ohio Legislature's Joint Committee Report on State’s Protection and Advocacy System
The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) requires states to serve and protect individuals with developmental disabilities and their families through a protect and advocacy (P&A) system. State P&As work "to protect individuals with developmental disabilities by empowering them and advocating on their behalf."
Last year, the Ohio General Assembly established a Joint Committee to Examine the Activities of Ohio's Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System and Client Assistance Program (CAP) and held two hearings and collected testimonies from individuals with disabilities and their families.
Earlier this week, the Joint Committee published a report summarizing the findings from the hearings and testimonies.
Despite being Ohio’s P&A and CAP, with the responsibility to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities, the testimony given by parents, guardians, and family members expressed concerns over DRO’s administration of its service system. Specifically, the testimony described DRO’s excessive litigation against the State to which families objected. It also described DRO’s efforts to promote transfers of residents out of ICFs, sheltered workshops, and facility-based day programs into community settings without regard to individual choice and parental rights. 4 Those efforts included DRO staff meeting privately with ICF residents without their guardians or parents present to encourage them to leave their ICF placement.
The report concludes with a number of recommendations including "[redesignating] the current P&A agency for intentionally not protecting and advocating for all individuals with disabilities."
In particular, the current P&A is not protecting or advocating for individuals residing in ICFs and/or accessing sheltered workshops, and facility-based work and day programs. When the joint committee questioned DRO about this concern, DRO indicated it does not have the resources to help everyone. The joint committee understands that DRO cannot provide individual legal representation to every individual served by the system, but it can protect all interests by promoting all service options through its advocacy with policymakers and by respecting the diverse choices made by individuals and families in the system.
You can read the full report by downloading the PDF file below.