#AdvocacyMatters: Why we never gave up
April 2, 2021 / #AdvocacyMatters
Five years ago, we embarked on a legal journey to improve access to Home and Community-Based Services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through the settlement that resulted from this Ball vs. DeWine suit, hundreds more Ohioans would be able to transition from an institutional setting to living and receiving services in their own homes and communities.
Waiting lists for Ohioans seeking to move from ICFs to community settings stretched for years, or sometimes decades, offering little hope to those wanting to return to their community. The HCBS waivers created by the lawsuit and expanded by the settlement helped Caryl move into a new home in Columbus. Caryl, a plaintiff in the Ball lawsuit, had lived in facilities since the age of 6, and her family thought there had to be a better option for her.
“She had been told that the place she was going to was going to help, you know train her, give her skills so she would be able to be more independently functional and that didn't happen. And so it was always very tragic for my mom every time we would go to visit her because we could see that she was not progressing,” Caryl’s sister, Cathy Mason-Jordan told Spectrum News.
Earlier this year, DRO team members began virtual visits with residents of ICFs to help them understand these state-funded waivers and the opportunities they bring. As this process moves forward, we will continue to:
- Learn about ICF residents’ interests, needs, and preferences;
- Connect interested residents with others who have transitioned from facilities to the community;
- Offer information about opportunities to visit community settings in person (or by video);
- Increase awareness of available waiver slots and types of home and community-based services;
- Support individuals, their families, and their guardians in making an informed choice about where those individuals prefer to live and received services.
Seeing these changes begin affirms our commitment to never give up this fight. Empowering those who wish to live and receive services in a Home and Community based setting through advocacy is rooted in the core of our mission. And because that #AdvocacyMatters, more Ohioans with disabilities are exercising their rights to live where and how they want.