Update on Ball v. Kasich - VOR Files Amicus Brief
VOR has requested permission from the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Ohio to file an amicus brief in support of individuals with intellectual disabilities and their family members who have acted to prevent a class-action suit brought by Disability Rights Ohio (DRO). DRO's suit seeks to reduce or remove funding in Ohio to Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) and sheltered workshops in favor of community care options. While community settings are appropriate for many individuals with disabilities, not all disabled individuals can handle or benefit from them. VOR supports a continuum of care to accommodate the diverse needs of all people with disabilities, including settings which provide higher levels of care for people with severe and profound needs.
DRO, Ohio's protection & advocacy agency for people with disabilities, opposes VOR's participation in the suit. In response, VOR writes in its brief,
"In order to fully and equitably resolve this case, the court will be confronted with the unenviable tasks of trying to fashion relief in such a manner as to protect the constitutional rights of thousands of Ohioans with unique requirements, needs, and preferences. To do so, the court should hear from more voices – not less."
Family members opposing DRO's suit are deeply appreciative of VOR's support. Kathy Wojciak, a special education professional whose intellectually disabled brother resides in an ICF, stated, "I am grateful that VOR has filed this amicus brief. I always strive to listen to and honor the voices of the individuals and families that I work with. This is something that DRO is not doing when it comes to this suit. This suit puts my brother's health and well-being at risk."
Parent and guardian Rich Klein expressed appreciation as well. "VOR is the only family-support organization that works to sustain all levels of care for intellectually disabled people. My daughter has experienced two moves because of facility-closures, both due in large part to pressure from DRO. Now her third home is in jeopardy. VOR's support of individuals needing specialized 24-hour care is invaluable."
VOR has been fighting for the rights of individuals with disabilities since the 1980's. VOR's First Vice President Joanne St. Amand who serves as guardian for her intellectually disabled sister in New Jersey puts into perspective the importance of VOR for families who too often have to fight to maintain the care their loved ones need.
"VOR believes that no matter where your loved one with intellectual disabilities chooses to live and work – in community based settings or in ICFs and sheltered workshops – those decisions should be made by individuals and their parents, guardians and family members. These highly personal choices should not be made on a class-wide basis through a lawsuit which seeks a one-size-fits-all solution."