Gov. Perdue's administration settles with US DOJ

This press release is about settlement in response to complaint from Disability Rights North Carolina in July, 2011:

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services

For Immediate Release

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Contact Chrissy Pearson at 919-855-4835 or Chrissy.pearson@dhhs.nc.gov

DHHS, U.S. DOJ Reach Agreement on Community-Based Care for Citizens with Serious Mental Illness

Raleigh — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the United States Department of Justice today reached an agreement on the state’s plan to offer more choices of where and how citizens with serious mental illness receive care and supportive services.

The plan, which was announced last month, will create housing slots in the community to offer the choice of community-based care for many adults with serious mental illness. It will also invest in job training and employment assistance for those citizens and will set up a comprehensive, 24/7 crisis care program for people with a serious mental illness.

This agreement will modernize our mental health system and ensure that North Carolina is providing the best possible treatment for adults diagnosed with severe mental illness. It will also provide the opportunity for many of these individuals to live in community settings if they choose to do so, and ensure that North Carolina is fully complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws.

This agreement is similar to ones signed by governors of a number of other states including, among others, the governors of Virginia and Georgia.

DHHS Secretary Al Delia agrees that more should be done to ensure access to community-based treatment for those with mental illness. “North Carolinians who have a serious mental illness have a right to choose the very best care environment to meet their personal needs,” he said. “That choice – whether they live in the community or in an adult care home – will be supported with access to mental health and other support services that will be available in part due to this agreement. Moving forward with a solution to help them identify and access those choices is the right thing to do,” he said.

“Disability Rights NC applauds the Governor and Secretary Delia for their leadership on this matter. They have not only done the right thing to protect the rights of people with disabilities, they have helped the state avoid costly litigation and destabilizing uncertainty,” said Vicki Smith, executive director of Disability Rights NC.

The agreement outlines DHHS’s plan of action to provide community-based services to people with mental illness. The budget the General Assembly passed in July expressly contemplated a settlement and appropriated funding to make this agreement possible. The timeline for completing the plan is eight years; this transition period will enable people who want to move to community-based settings to do so on a workable timetable and will allow sufficient time for North Carolina’s mental health infrastructure to implement this agreement.

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