The Olmstead Act? What is it?

In Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581, 119 S.Ct. 2176 (1999) ("the Olmstead decision"), the Supreme Court construed Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to require states to place qualified individuals with mental disabilities in community settings, rather than in institutions, whenever treatment professionals determine that such placement is appropriate, the affected persons do not oppose such placement, and the state can reasonable accommodate the placement, taking into account the resources available to the state and the needs of others with disabilities. The Department of Justice regulations implementing Title II of the ADA require public entities to administer their services, programs, and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.

In Olmstead, the Supreme Court stated that institutional placements of people with disabilities who can live in, and benefit from, community settings perpetuates the unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life. The Supreme Court state that "recognition and unjustified institutional isolation of person with disabilities is a form of discrimination reflect[ed] two evident judgements": 1) "Institutional placements of people with disabilities who can live in, and benefit from, community settings perpetuates the unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life"; and 2) "confinement in an institution severely diminishes everyday life activities of individuals, including family relations, social contacts, work options, economic independence, educational advancement, and cultural enrichment." Olmstead, 119 S.Ct. 2176, 2179, 2187 [emphasis added]. This decision effects not only all persons in institutions and segregated settings, but also people with disabilities who are at risk of institutionalization, including people with disabilities on waiting lists to receive community based services and supports.

The Court indicated that one way states can show they are meeting their obligations under the ADA and the Olmstead decisions is to develop a "comprehensive, effectively working plan for placing qualified people with mental disabilities in less restrictive settings." Olmstead at 2179. Based on this, almost all states are in the process of developing, or have already developed such plans.

In support of these state efforts, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13217: Community-Based Alternatives for Individuals with Disabilities (the Olmstead Executive Order) on June 18, 2001, in which he extended application of the Supreme Courts Olmstead decision to all Americans with disabilities, and called upon selected Federal agencies, including U.S. Department of Labor, to help support governors in their implementation of the Olmstead decision. In support of these state efforts and in response to the direction set forth in Executive Order 13217, the ODEP is issuing this SGA for WorkFORCE Actions Grants.