Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Reports of Shortcomings in GA's Progress Towards Compliance with Settlement

In this review of articles published since the start of 2017, we've collected stories that expose the need for further state action towards the goals outlined in the settlement agreement.

In this article, Alan Judd of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution examines the quality of care provided by the state-contracted care provider, ResCare. As the state transitions to full compliance with the settlement agreement, inpatients with developmental disabilities are transitioning to in-home care and group-home facilities, many managed by ResCare. But, as Judd reports, care provided by ResCare, a national for-profit company that is “the state’s largest provider of services for people with disabilities”, bears responsibility for various cases of abuse and severe neglect, some of which have resulted in deaths.

The Augusta Chronicle; April 30, 2017: State improving but concerns remain about care for patients moving out of Gracewood

In this article from The Augusta Chronicle, Tom Corwin reports on progress toward the community placement of developmentally disabled inpatients currently housed in the East Central Regional State Hospital. In order to satisfy the demands of the settlement agreement, over 200 patients living in East Central Regional Hospital must be placed in community care programs. Corwin reports, however, that the state has made slow progress towards this goal, and even at the current rate of progress, the state, in some cases, has failed to provide sufficient care for certain patients placed in the community.

Georgia Health News; May 2, 2017: Years after hospital closed, some former patients struggle for safe housing

In this article from Georgia Health News, Saleen Martin examines the struggle to find housing for patients transitioning into community based care in Rome, GA. In accordance with the settlement agreement, the Northwest Regional Hospital in Rome was closed in January 2011, and since the settlement was assumed in 2010, patients transitioning out of the hospital have sought safe and affordable housing. Martin, however, details obstacles many of these patients have faced, such as the limited availability of housing subsidies, overcrowding of group-home facilities and the hazards of living at certain properties. 

In this article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Alan Judd reports on issues facing an effective transition to full compliance with the settlement agreement. Among the issues Judd covers is the state’s failure to provide sufficient resources for patients transitioning to community based care. Judd reports on the limited availability of well-supported housing for patients with psychiatric disabilities, and he describes poor quality of care provided in group homes for patients with developmental disabilities (for more on group homes see AJC; April 10). Judd also mentions that advocates worry the Department of Justice, under new leadership, “may show little interest in enforcing Obama-era settlements such as the one with Georgia.”

The Philadelphia Tribune (reprint); May 12, 2017: Georgia still sending mentally ill people to homeless shelters

2017 Reports from the Independent Reviewer

Below we've provided links to three reports from the Independent Reviewer appointed to supervise the implementation of the Georgia DOJ Settlement Agreement. 

DOJ Files Complaint Over GNETS

In order to summarize GNETS developments from 2016, we've gathered news articles covering the progress of the lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice. We've also posted links to the letter of intent, press release and the complaint issued by the Department of Justice.

News Coverage

After eight months of unsuccessful negotiation, the Justice Department decides to sue the State of Georgia. Alan Judd reports on the issues under negotiation and the DOJ’s rationale for pursuing legal action.

Alan Judd reports on the State’s defense against the DOJ’s complaint. As Judd explains, the state’s attorneys claim that the federal government does not have standing to sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Department of Justice rebuts Georgia’s claim that the DOJ lacks standing, and they claim that resolving this dispute about standing will be excessively time intensive. Beyond this barrier to a timely resolution of the GNETS dispute, Judd notes that new leadership at the Department of Justice could entail further delay.

DOJ Documents

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Series on the GNETS

We're reviewing 2016 news coverage of the "Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support" or "GNETS". Here is a three part series written by Alan Judd for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; the series details various concerning features of the "psychoeducational" schools.
“Schools send disproportionate numbers of black children to programs already under fire for ‘warehousing’ students with behavioral disorders.”

“Educators wanted to subject Libby Beem to behavioral experimentation in Georgia’s unique system of psychoeducational schools. A courtroom showdown would determine Libby’s fate.”

Part 3; May 8, 2016; Physical restraint common at psychoeducational schools
“With a tiny sliver of students, special behavioral programs record five times more restraints than all other Georgia schools combined.”

Monday, March 9, 2015

DBHDD Institutes New Vision and Mission Statement

DBHDD unveiled new vision and mission statements this week emphasizing the agency’s commitment to providing high-quality care to people with behavioral health challenges and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Vision Easy access to high-quality care that leads to a life of recovery and independence for the people we serve. Mission Leading an accountable and effective continuum of care to support people with behavioral health challenges, and intellectual and developmental disabilities in a dynamic health care environment. “At every level of our work, we are committed to providing easy access to high-quality care,” said Commissioner Berry. “The new vision and mission statements reflect the work we have focused on for the last several years.” This marks the first change to DBHDD’s vision and mission statements since the agency was created in 2009.

Latest Article on Settlement

State: Won’t meet Justice Department Deadline by Andy Miller from February 20, 2015

Find out about the ASO because it is critical to future of Olmstead in Georgia

Follow this link to learn about DBHDD's ASO It is going to do the work of quality management, contract or run GCAL, and gather data. Here is a power point to understand it all (or to begin to understand it).

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

MFP Stakeholder Meeting January 16th!

What: Invitation to attend a Focus Group Discussion about Your Experience in Money Follows the Person

WhenFriday, January 16, 2015, 1 – 3 PM

Where: The Georgia Advocacy Office (GAO), 150 East Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030.

More about the Focus Group Discussion –
During the focus group, you will be asked to discuss your experience with MFP.  By participating, you will share some information about yourself and your experiences with MFP.  There is no direct benefit to you for participating and there are no foreseeable risks.  The results of this focus group discussion will be used to improve MFP and help us determine the future of MFP in Georgia. Your participation is strictly voluntary. 

For more information or to register to attend, you can contact Cheri Mitchell at The GAO at (404) 885-1234 or RL Grubbs at the Dept of Community Health at (404) 657-9323.
If you need an interpreter, alternate formats, or other accommodations for participation in the focus group discussion, please contact Cheri Mitchell or RL Grubbs as soon as possible so proper arrangements can be made. We look forward to meeting with you at the focus group discussion.

New Olmstead Rights Website

OlmsteadRights.org is all about Olmstead v. LC

Olmstead, or Olmstead v. LC, is the name of the most important civil rights decision for people with disabilities in our country's history. This 1999 United States Supreme Court decision was based on the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The Supreme Court held that people with disabilities have a qualified right to receive state funded supports and services in the community rather than institutions when the following three part test is met:
  1. the person's treatment professionals determine that community supports are appropriate;
  2. the person does not object to living in the community; and
  3. the provision of services in the community would be a reasonable accommodation when balanced with other similarly situated individuals with disabilities.
To learn more about Olmstead, visit the new OlmsteadRights.org website.

Learn about What is Happening with Georgia DOJ Settlement

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities has links to all of the main documents related to the current status of the Georgia/DOJ Olmstead v. LC Settlement.

You can find the Independent Reviewer's most recent report here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Judge Markle's Fantastic Article on Olmstead from the Atlanta Business Chronicle April 19, 2013

Judge Todd Markle
Next year marks the 15th anniversary of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court opinion on civil rights. The Olmstead decision is often compared to Brown v. Board of Education in its significance yet it remains largely unknown to the public, its mandate perhaps “more honored in the breach than the observance.”
Odds are, most of us will be touched by the reach of Olmstead in the years ahead so its requirements are worth note. Its proscriptions against discrimination of persons with disabilities are worth celebrating.
The story of Olmstead dates back to 1990 when the senior President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. In announcing that it was time for “the shameful walls of exclusion” to come tumbling down, President Bush observed that “every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence and freedom.”
Just as with implementation of Brown, however, the thick walls of discrimination against the disabled were slow to fall.

The Olmstead case itself originated in the Atlanta courtroom of Judge Marvin Shoob as an effort to enforce the ADA’s integration mandate requiring provision of government services in the most integrated setting consistent with individual need. The Atlanta Legal Aid Society brought the suit on behalf of two Georgia women who were being unlawfully segregated when they were confined to institutions in order to receive medical services. The case ultimately reached the highest court in the land.

In its 1999 decision, the Olmstead Court held that individuals with disabilities have a right to receive services in their homes and communities. The Court aptly noted Congress’ concern when it passed the ADA that segregation of individuals with disabilities is a serious and pervasive form of discrimination. After Olmstead, there can be no doubt that men and women who currently live in nursing homes and institutions have the right to return to their homes and communities. Many have done so while others have avoided institutionalization altogether.

Nevertheless, implementation of the Olmstead mandate around the country has been slow and uneven. Citing the lack of financial resources, some states have resisted voluntary compliance with the Olmstead directives. Others have bowed to political pressure from special interests and continued to invest in outdated and obsolete institutions. To meet its obligations, Georgia has a full-time Olmstead coordinator who is charged with the responsibility of implementing Georgia’s obligations arising from the decision.

Although change is often difficult and no doubt involves front-loaded expense to cash-strapped state governments, full compliance with Olmstead will ultimately prove cost-effective. Studies demonstrate what should otherwise be obvious: The cost of community care is a fraction as that of institutional treatment. Moreover, the outcomes from community care are far better than traditional segregation through institutionalization. It is worth noting that many of the evidence-based research findings that helped drive the Criminal Justice Reform Council’s recommendations are equally relevant on the issue of treatment and care of the disabled. Regardless, Olmstead is the law of the land and compliance is not optional.

As the Olmstead anniversary approaches, we should celebrate the end of yet another distasteful chapter of discrimination in our collective history. Under Olmstead, each of us now has a right to receive disability services in our homes and communities rather than in dehumanizing institutions. Olmstead has given new life to thousands of Americans with disabilities. As Brown brought the end of segregated public education, Olmstead brought the end of segregated disability services.

Future generations undoubtedly will ask, what took so long?

Markle is a judge on the Superior Court of Fulton County and will be the judge of the new Fulton Veterans Court. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he served as executive counsel to Gov. Nathan Deal. Judge Markle chaired the Criminal Justice Reform Council in 2011 and remains a member by the designation of Gov. Deal.

Landmark Olmstead Settlement in New York!

Landmark Settlement for New York City Adult Home Residents
Scattered-Site Housing, Community Services Enable Independence, Integration

NEW YORK—July 23, 2013—Lawyers for adult home residents, together with the U.S. Department of Justice, reached a landmark settlement with New York State. The settlement ensures that thousands of residents of 23 large “adult homes”—board and care homes serving primarily people with mental illnesses—will have the opportunity to live in their own homes with the services they need to succeed and be participants in their communities.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Long Road Home Olmstead Celebration -- Rome, Georgia


NWGA Center for Independent Living will be hosting an Olmstead Anniversary Celebration at the Rome Floyd County Library located at 205 Riverside Parkway NE, Rome, Georgia 30161 in the Oostanaula and Etowah rooms from 11AM to 1PM on Wednesday, June 19, 2013.  Everyone is welcome!  Lunch will be served.  Please RSVP to NWGA CIL at 706-314-0008  by Monday, June 17 at noon in order to have an accurate count for lunch.

Olmstead is the 1999 Supreme Court Decision that enables people of all ages with disabilities to move out of nursing homes and institutions and return home.  As we celebrate the 14th Anniversary of this landmark disability rights decision, we still have a long way to go.  Join us so you can learn what you can do, to network with others, and to have some fun too!

NWGA Center for Independent Living is a non-residential, community-based nonprofit run by people with disabilities to empower anyone with a disability of any age to become more independent.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

I am Olmstead

In 2014, Olmstead will have its 15th anniversary.  To celebrate, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society's Disability Integration Project will be debuting http://www.IamOlmstead.org/

We have been working with Leadership Atlanta to create a public service announcement about Olmstead.  Here is the first draft.  I am Olmstead Public Service Announcement First Draft We are still working on it, but it is already fantastic.  Please check it out.

Inside Bush v. Gore

This is a quick side note from the regular posts on this blog because my (Talley's) Dad is coming out with a book.  Please check it out.  Inside Bush v. Gore by Charley Wells  I am very excited about it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Mental Health Day at the Capitol 
Please join us at Mental Health Day at the Capitol on February 19th. To sign up, contact the Georgia Parent Support Network at 404 758-4500 and ask for Rheba Smith. 

 “Cover Georgia Day” on Tuesday, February 19th from 9AM to 1PM. 

Cover Georgia is a coalition of consumer and patient advocates, providers, and industry stakeholders who have come together around a common goal: covering Georgia’s uninsured by expanding Medicaid.
 Starts at 9am at Central Presbyterian Church (201 Washington Street, across from the State Capitol) 
 Don’t miss out on this important event–please join us and make a difference. Help us Cover Georgia.  There is no cost to attend but please RSVP so we have the necessary materials on hand.
To learn more about Cover Georgia and to join the coalition efforts, go to www.coverga.org.

Suicide Prevention Day is February 21, 2013. Contact Sheri McGuinness at sherimcguinness@gmail.com for more information. 

Disability Day at the Capitol February 21, 2013 (register by February 15th)

Disability Day is an annual rally sponsored by Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities on the steps of the State Capitol each year to promote access, opportunity and meaningful community living for Georgians with disabilities and their families. Advocates from across the State, elected officials, State legislators and Georgia citizens with and without disabilities gather together to make their voices heard.

Join us for the 15th Annual Disability Day on February 21, 2013 on the Capitol steps! This year's theme, "What's Your Connection?," is also the US Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy's (ODEP) national campaign that emphasizes a disability as a universal link that each of us have in common and encourages inclusion in all aspects of life. ODEP recently launched "What's Your Connection?" to invite people nationwide to participate in the campaign by submitting a captioned photograph or video that answers the question "What's your connection to disability?"

Join us at Disability Day to find out how to participate in "What's Your Connection?" or visithttps://www.disability.gov/home/newsroom/what%27s_your_connection
Register for the 15th Annual Disability Day before February 15, 2013


Opinion Piece on Mental Illness and Mass Shootings

DON'T MAKE SCAPEGOATS OF PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS by Ellyn Jeager, January 26, 2013, Georgia Health News

Monday, August 13, 2012

DBHDD Welcomes New Commissioner

DBHDD Press Release

August 13, 2012                                      
Tom Wilson, 404-463-7649


ATLANTA - The new commissioner of the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) began his tenure today by thanking the agency’s employees and committing to working closely with consumers, their families, and service providers. Frank W. Berry was previously CEO of View Point Health in Lawrenceville and has over twenty years experience serving the people of Georgia. He was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal in June to succeed Dr. Frank Shelp as commissioner.

“Over the past three years, the people of DBHDD have created an organization founded on service and professionalism,” Berry said in his inaugural message to the agency’s employees.  “In this next phase of growth, we’ll continue expanding access to high quality services for everyone we serve, with a focus on strong partnerships and accountability for our providers and ourselves.”

The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities was created in 2009 to focus on programs and policies benefitting people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders.

A bio and photo of Frank Berry are available at http://dbhdd.georgia.gov/commissioner-frank-berry


Monday, July 30, 2012

Georgia APSE SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT Conference Registration Open!

Announcement from Georgia APSE
Georgia APSE SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT Statewide Conference Registration is open and ready to go!  If you have mailing lists and/or listservs, please share this information as widely as possible.  We look forward to seeing you in Athens!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Friday, October 12, 2012
UGA Hotel and Conference Center
1197 South Lumpkin Street, Athens, GA 30602
United States
 Welcome to the registration site for the 2012 GA-APSE state conference, "Real Jobs For All: The Expectation, not the Exception!" We anticipate a wonderful conference filled with presentations focusing on moving Georgia forward towards a more inclusive workforce. Changing hearts, minds, and policy to reflect numerous employment options for all people will be a great beginning in our state.
Invited keynote presenters include Dr. Lisa Razzano, Associate Director of Training and Education for the University of Illinois, Chicago, Department of Psychiatry. We wanted to make sure she made it back to Georgia after her rousing speech at The Carter Center SE Forum.
We also look forward to finalizing keynote agreements with Dr. Lori Davis and Michael Callahan, and will feel fortunate to have both of these stars in the fields of Customized and Supported employment available to share their prospective visions.
We anticipate hearing from Rich Toscano and David Lynde, both nationally known employment experts with a wealth of experience, who will share their ideas about the IPS model and how implementation depends not just on the "front line", but also how policy and administrative decisions can positively affect evidence-based supported employment.
We are anticipating a large roster of sessions including an encore appearance by Jennifer McGee, advocate and mother of sons who experience autism. We will have appearances by a well-renown motivational speaker and self- advocate who is also a business person, and a father and son whom will share their ideas about what it takes to make a real life in the community. Ruby Moore, ED of The Georgia Advocacy Office, will present "Real Jobs, Real Lives." Ruby has over thirty years of experience in advocating for people previously considered "unemployable". GA-APSE's own Doug Crandall will share "Creating Communities of Excellence," a panel discussion which is sure to get conversation and ideas flowing. We are working hard to offer meaningful sessions on job development, collaboration around funding for SE, and other topics sure to add tools to the toolbox of SE for all in attendance. The GA-APSE Board of Directors welcomes you to Athens!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dave Blanchard Named DBHDD Deputy Assistant Commissioner

Press Release from DBHDD


ATLANTA -- David Blanchard, a longtime advocate, service provider, and current Executive Director of All About Developmental Disabilities in Atlanta, will be joining the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) as its new Deputy Assistant Commissioner.

“Georgia is in the midst of tremendous change as we work to serve more people closer to home,” noted Dr. Bryce McLaulin, DBHDD’s Acting Assistant Commissioner for Developmental Disabilities. “Dave brings experience and credibility in advocacy, public policy, and management to the task.”

DBHDD is the state agency that’s responsible for policies and programs that serve people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders. The agency is engaged in a five-year project to expand community services for people with developmental disabilities so that they can live as independently as possible in the most integrated settings possible and none have to be isolated in state hospitals or other institutions.

All About Developmental Disabilities (AADD) is an Atlanta-based non-profit that provides support services to families of people with developmental disabilities, allowing individuals to experience personal empowerment, family stability, and community participation. With more than 50 years of service, it’s one of the longest-serving organizations for developmental disabilities in Atlanta and the state. Blanchard has worked with AADD in various capacities since 1999 and has been Executive Director of the organization since 2009.
- more -

DAVID BLANCHARD – page 2 of 2

Blanchard is a member of the Boards of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute and the Georgia American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. He holds an MS in Family Studies from Auburn University and an AB in Psychology from the University of Georgia.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network Conference Coming Up!

The Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network 
21st Annual Summer Conference 

Working Toward Wellness Through Coaching 
August 21-23, 2012 
Epworth by the Sea 
St. Simon's Island, Georgia 

Conference Information
Conference Date
August 21-23, 2012

Conference Location
Epworth By The Sea
St. Simons Island, Georgia

Registration Deadline
All Registration Forms must be
received on or before August 1, 2012

Conference Check-In
Check-in will begin at Epworth on
Tuesday, August 21st at 2:00 pm in
Strickland Auditorium

PLEASE NOTE: Everyone is responsible for their own lunch on Tuesday.
Supper is included in the conference cost.

Conference Questions
All questions regarding the 2012
Conference should be directed to the
Georgia Mental Health Consumer
Network office:
Tel: (404) 687-9487
Fax: (404) 687-0772
E-mail: lynn@gmhcn.org