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Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

The METO Settlement

Roberta Opheim: The Initial Call

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Roberta Opheim: We had initially received a phone call from one family that was concerned about the amount of restraint and the methodology by using metal law enforcement handcuffs in a treatment program. And it was somewhat of a routine call; we made some suggestions. They called back and said the facility had agreed to discontinue the use of those restraints on their individual, and we thought the case was closed. However, a few months later, we received one and then another complaint that was very similar in nature, which made us wonder if this was a widespread practice or an isolated incident, as we had originally thought.

What we found out was that it was a widespread, programmatic emphasis on the use of restraints routinely as a form of behavior modification programming and that, when those restraints were applied, they often employed the handcuffs and the leg hobbles, which is an extreme form of restraint and curtailment of individual liberty.

We initially looked at a random sample of cases, and we saw that this pattern existed. And our first step would be to notify the Department of Licensing, both in the Health Department and the Department of Human Services and say, we think there are some violations going on here. And we turned our focus to looking at what are the needs of the clients and advocating for their particular best interest.

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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.