The State of Rhode Island is in trouble after a serious lack of progress in a 2014 consent decree to move intellectually and developmentally disabled people out of sheltered workshops and other restrictive environments.
Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell Jr. ordered the state to take action (about 20 actions actually) or they could potentially face fines that could total as much as $1 million a year.
The mandated actions include the state hiring a program developer and employment specialist by the end of July and by August 1st they must "appropriately increase salaries, benefits, training, and supervision for district support professionals and job coaches."
Also included in the judge's plans is th creation of a “live database” that would enable the tracking of all involved individuals and their status. By July 29, the judge ordered, the state must provide him and Court Monitor Charles S. Moseley access to the entries from which they “will select files at random for verification.”
Most dates specified in Wednesday’s order come this spring and summer, but one is Dec. 31.
It was reported that “Governor Raimondo included a total of $6.8 million in her proposed budget to support the requirements of the Consent Decree, including $1.8 million for specific investments in integrated community employment and day services and $5 million to support wage increases for direct care workers.”
Judge McConnell wrote that if the provisions of Wednesday's order are not met on schedule, he will hold a contempt hearing which could result in fines. "Total monies to be paid as a result of an order of this court will not exceed $1 million per year," he wrote.
The 2014 consent decree, considered a landmark in national disabilities rulings, followed a year-long investigation by the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division that found that Rhode Island grossly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Department of Justice cited “the state’s failure to develop a sufficient quantity of integrated transition, employment, vocational and day services and supports for individuals with I/DD.”Read More