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Minnesota: New Olmstead Plan Addresses Barriers to Living in the Community Faced by People with Disabilities

October 29, 2015

On September 29, 2015, United States District Judge Donovan Frank, pursuant to an existing settlement agreement, approved a plan detailing Minnesota’s strategy to achieve compliance with Olmstead. Under the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., states have an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide services in the most integrated setting appropriate to individual needs. The Minnesota Olmstead plan was developed pursuant to a June 2011 Stipulated Class Action Settlement Agreement in the District of Minnesota. The settlement agreement required the State of Minnesota to develop a comprehensive plan to improve the number of people with disabilities in integrated settings, as articulated in Olmstead.

The Olmstead plan calls for a series of state and local initiatives that would reduce the State’s dependence on sheltered workshops and move people from institutions into the community. It outlines specific goals and timelines for these initiatives in order to measure the progress Minnesota has made towards the objectives of the plan. An Olmstead subcabinet will issue public reports and work plans detailing the transition to competitive, integrated employment models. In addition, the state will conduct Quality of Life surveys asking Minnesotans with disabilities how much autonomy they have and gauging whether they are working and living in the most integrated setting possible. The first work plans for the Olmstead Plan were due on October 10, 2015, and the first Quality of Life survey will be completed in 2016.

Judge Frank praised the State for creating a realistic plan with clear-cut goals, but noted that the state must make the completion of these goals a top priority. Several advocacy organizations and stakeholders are concerned that Minnesota might not fulfill the plan’s ambitious goals. For example, the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the federally-funded Protection and Advocacy organization for the state, argues that the plan does not track how choices will be made between sheltered workshops, day programs, and more integrated settings under the plan.

For more information on Minnesota’s new Olmstead Plan, read the state plan. You can also view the specific goals and timeline for Minnesota’s plan.