Speaking out for People with
 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Joint Commission Recommends Redesignating Ohio's Protection and Advocacy Agency

On April 11, 2023,  Ohio's Joint Commission to Examine the State Protection and Advocacy System and Client Assistance Program recommended to the Governor that the state "redesignate" its P&A, having found Disability Rights Ohio for "intentionally not protecting and advocating for all individfuals with disabilities."

The report came in response to hearings on Nov. 1 and Nov. 15, 2023 in which families testified about their dissatifaction with the DRO's actions and biases against people in ICFs and sheltered workshops.

Download the report here

From the report:

"Testimony given by parents, guardians, and family members expressed concerns over DRO’s administration of its service system. Specifically, the testimony described DRO’s excessive litigation against the State to which families objected. It also described DRO’s efforts to promote transfers of residents out of ICFs, sheltered workshops, and facility-based day programs into community settings without regard to individual choice and parental rights. 4 Those efforts included DRO staff meeting privately with ICF residents without their guardians or parents present to encourage them to leave their ICF placement.

Furthermore, the testimony indicated unilateral actions taken by DRO to target ICF settings, day programs, and workshops, without seeking cooperation from families and ignoring families’ advocacy to preserve these settings. Witnesses stated DRO’s actions run counter to health and safety needs and disregard the informed decision-making of families. Moreover, witnesses emphasized the importance of the specialized services and expertise offered in ICFs to support individuals with complex physical, medical and/or behavioral needs.

The witnesses also touched on the issue of aging caregivers, and the importance that families have access to intermediate care facilities to appropriately address the needs of their loved ones when they are no longer able to provide that care. In addition, witnesses stated that it is vital for policymakers to underscore and promote a multi-dimensional strategy, which includes access to ICFs, sheltered workshops, facility-based day programs, and community-based residential and work settings. However, witnesses stressed that DRO takes a one-size-fits-all approach preferring community settings to the detriment of other options. In its adherence to this approach, families are concerned that DRO acts adversely to their disabled family members’ interests who require higher levels of specialized care."

The hearings may be viewed here:

November 1 Hearing: https://ohiochannel.org/video/ohio-joint-committee-to-examine-the-protection-and-advocacy-system-11-1-2022

November 15th Hearing: https://www.ohiochannel.org/video/ohio-joint-committee-to-examine-the-protection-and-advocacy-system-11-15-2022

Ohio has a provision in its state code that calls for hearings before the state legislature every two years allowing families to testify about the state's Protection and Advocacy agency.

This section of the State Code may be found at https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/section-5123.603

We hope that other states will follow Ohio's lead and add such provisions to their own state codes.