Last month, the Department Of Justice found that Maine violates the civil rights of children with disabilities. Maine violates the civil rights of disabled children by institutionalizing them rather than offering them supports and services that would enable them to remain with their families.
Disability Rights Maine complained to the DOJ on behalf of children who were still being held in mental hospitals, residential treatment centers, and a state juvenile detention facility called Long Creek Youth Development Center in Portland due to a shortage of community-based behavioral health services.
According to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division inquiry, Maine’s behavioral health providers had long waitlists, limited coverage in remote regions, insufficient crisis assistance, and a lack of support for foster parents of disabled children.
This is not uncommon. More than 800,000 Americans were on waiting lists for Medicaid-funded home and community-based services as of March 2021. The majority of states with lengthy waiting lists are located in the south and east. 35 states maintained waiting lists for waiver services in 2015.
Texas had the most persons (232,068) on such waiting lists, while North Dakota had the least amount (3). Delaware, D.C., Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota, and Washington do not have any waiting lists.
Where someone lives shouldn’t determine when people get help or how much help they receive. States shouldn’t force people with disabilities to be on waiting lists for services that they desperately need. I am fortunate to live in Massachusetts where there is no waiting list for services.
Ironically, these findings came to light on June 23rd, which was the anniversary of The Olmstead Decision, which ruled that people with disabilities should be able to live in the least restrictive environment that is suited to their needs.
People with disabilities deserve to live in their communities regardless of age. It doesn’t matter if someone is a child or an adult. A five-year-old has a right to live with their family as much as a 50-year old. Maine needs to provide enough services for people to live at home.
Dress, Brad. “DOJ: Maine Violating ADA, over-Institutionalizing Children with Disabilities.” The Hill, The Hill, 22 June 2022, https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/3533050-doj-maine-violating-ada-over-institutionalizing-children-with-disabilities/.
Diament, Michelle. “Waiting Lists May Be Eliminated for Disability Services Provided by Medicaid.” Disability Scoop, Disability Scoop, 22 Mar. 2021, https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2021/03/22/waiting-lists-may-be-eliminated-for-disability-services-provided-by-medicaid/29252/.
“How Two Women Changed Thousands of Lives.” Disability Rights Texas, Disability Rights Texas, 17 June 2019, http://www.disabilityrightstx.org/en/2019/06/17/olmstead20th/.
“Number of Persons on Medicaid 1915(c) HCBS Waiver Wait Lists, 2016.” Center On Disability , Center On Disability , 31 Dec. 2016, https://centerondisability.org/ada_parc/utils/indicators.php?id=9.