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Minnesota’s new Olmstead Plan improves opportunities for people with disabilities

November 01, 2013
ST. PAUL, MN – Today, the state of Minnesota released a plan to ensure that people with disabilities are able to live, work and enjoy life in the most integrated setting desired. The plan charts a course that will change the way state government provides services and support for Minnesotans with disabilities.

“This is the first time that a comprehensive plan has been developed across all state agencies,” said Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon, who chaired the Olmstead Sub-Cabinet. “In the past, work to improve services and support for people with disabilities was conducted agency-by-agency. Minnesota’s new Olmstead Plan establishes a roadmap for improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.”

“The Minnesota Olmstead Plan provides an opportunity to assess our state’s progress toward assurance of equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency of individuals with disabilities,” said Colleen Wieck, executive director of the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and an Olmstead Sub-Cabinet ex-officio member.

The Olmstead Plan recognizes that Minnesotans with disabilities want choices in where they live, where they work or go to school, and how they participate in community life. The Olmstead Plan details how the state will move forward with a review of policies and procedures. The plan also identifies and addresses barriers to full integration that people with disabilities face. To ensure progress is made, the plan specifies goals and timeframes to measure progress.

After months of discussion at public meetings, testimony from people with disabilities and their families and many others, the Olmstead Sub-Cabinet has issued the plan. Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan (PDF) can be found online.

An Olmstead Plan is a way for a government entity to document its plans to provide services to individuals with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the individual. Effective Olmstead plans include analysis of current services, concrete commitments to increase integration (and to prevent unnecessary institutionalization), and specific and reasonable timeframes, among other components.

There are three main reasons why Minnesota has developed an Olmstead Plan:
  • Minnesota has long been a leader in services for people with disabilities and continues examining opportunities to help people live as independently as desired. Then as part of 2011 federal court case involving the treatment of clients at a Department of Human Services facility, the state agreed to develop an Olmstead Plan.

  • In January 2013, Governor Mark Dayton issued an executive order, forming an Olmstead Sub-Cabinet and directing identified agencies to develop and implement an Olmstead Plan.

  • Developing a comprehensive and effective working plan to increase integration will ensure that the state of Minnesota complies with the letter and spirit of the Olmstead decision and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“I am proud of the collaborative efforts of state agencies, people with disabilities and their families, advocates, service providers and stakeholders to create the Olmstead Plan,” said Lt. Governor Prettner Solon. “Minnesotans from across the state helped shape our plan. We ensured that people with disabilities were involved throughout the process and held listening sessions to collect public input.”

And to make the goals identified in the plan a reality, the Olmstead Sub-Cabinet will identify necessary fiscal and policy changes and work with agencies and legislators to implement the plan.