Minnesota's Olmstead Plan May Affect Disability Services Offered by Achieve

Achieve Services, Inc. - Minnesota Olmstead Plan

The State of Minnesota is currently in the planning process of implementing an “Olmstead Plan,” which is named after a Supreme Court case that requires adults with developmental disabilities to be accommodated as much as possible into the community, rather than at separate facilities. Listen to a recent MPR News discussion to hear some of the elements of the plan that may be implemented.

This plan has raised many questions about how services that cater to adults with disabilities, such as Achieve, will be affected. As a response to how Achieve plans to address the potential changes, our CEO Tom Weaver has sent the following letter to families of participants:

Dear Family Member/Guardian,

The state has been developing a plan called the Olmstead Plan as part of a legal settlement where a lawsuit was brought against the state of Minnesota and the Department of Human Services for the improper use of restraints at a state operated program. The Olmstead Plan’s goals are to ensure that people with disabilities are not segregated into institutional settings, are not discriminated against, can access services and programs, and assure that individuals with disabilities are in the most integrated setting appropriate to the individual.

The Olmstead Plan incorporates the following domains:

  • Supports and Services
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Employment
  • Community engagement
  • Lifelong learning and Education
  • Healthcare and Healthy Living

At Achieve the domain that impacts us the most is the ‘employment’ area. We feel the plan surrounding employment is well intentioned and laudable, emphasizing employment options in the least restrictive settings. However, we have concerns about ideas that have been expressed during the planning phase and from testimony held around this topic. That concern revolves around the idea that all people with disabilities can and should be employed in community settings only. While we agree that is the goal for many participants at Achieve, we also recognize that this is not the best option for everyone we serve.

The Olmstead Planning Committee has researched other states to determine how they operate and have promoted examples of such states as Vermont where day service workshops have been closed and ‘day services’ are only available for those that work in the community. We are concerned that eliminating services, such as in-house production and non-work related programs will not serve all participants well. And, that elimination of these options would result in those unable to work in the community to remain at home.

Achieve’s center-based program provides an environment for participants to work at real jobs for competitive pay. It is also a place to learn new skills, develop self-esteem and a sense of self-worth. Most importantly, participants and their team have the choice of what type of program they work – be it community-based, in-house, or a combination of both.

The Olmstead Subcabinet is seeking feedback from people throughout the state. They are holding listening sessions around the state and have provided a website and email address to gather that feedback. I would encourage you to give them your input into this plan before it is finalized and decisions are made that would be regrettable. The last scheduled listening session is August 19th in Rochester. It is important that you provide your feedback no later than that date.

The message we are promoting is “community employment and integration is important for people with disabilities, however, we need to provide options and choice. Do not eliminate options for people that are not able to work in the community and still require habilitative services during the day.”

You can find more information about Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan and leave your input at their website.

Or email them your thoughts to: opc.public@state.mn.us


Tom Weaver
Achieve Services CEO