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North Carolina has fouled up yet another opportunity for significant progress in how it treats and cares for people with mental illness. That is the conclusion drawn by the experts and advocates Disability Rights NC this morning in response to an announcement that the state has failed to reach a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice with respect to a “letter of findings” issued by the feds last July.

As is stated in the press release issued by DRNC and reproduced below, the Perdue administration has, sadly, opted for several more years of glacial-paced “progress” on the issue of warehousing mentally ill people in “rest homes” rather than biting the bullet and entering into a bona fide and enforceable agreement as has been done in other states. All in all, a sad day for the cause:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Vicki Smith, Executive Director
Disability Rights North Carolina
vicki.smith@disabilityrightsnc.org
919-856-2195

State Avoids Enforcement in Its Failure to Reach Agreement with the USDOJ Regarding Its Legal Obligation to North Carolinians with Mental Illness Read More

If you envision the Dix property in downtown Raleigh as a 306-acre park, there are small signs that a vision which began as early as 2003, when the General Assembly decided to move Dorothea Dix Hospital to Butner, could become reality.

Dorothea Dix Property and Raleigh Skyline

But to fulfill this grand dream, a powerful coalition is needed to propose a plan to address the needs of mental health, conservation, Raleigh city officials and state government as well as to drive and focus the effort.

Read More

Disability Rights North Carolina is calling on state officials to provide necessary services to North Carolina’s mentally ill children who also have other disabilities. The advocacy group’s appeal follows an investigation that revealed a lack of available mental health services, leading to long waits in emergency rooms, hospitalizations, and institutionalization out-of-state.

Vicki Smith, Executive Director with Disability Rights N.C., notes that “debilitating” funding cuts by the General Assembly’s have only made matters worse for families trying to find adequate treatment for these children.

Here’s an excerpt from the report released Wednesday:

“These funding cuts and lack of necessary and appropriate community services mean North Carolina’s children increasingly face institutionalization, many in other states. While most children still receive mental health services in a private residence (e.g. their home, a relative’s home), a significant number of children receive services in out-of-home settings, including psychiatric residential treatment facilities, community residential homes, foster homes, youth development centers (e.g. training schools) and state psychiatric hospitals. While the percentage of children treated in out-of-home residential treatment facilities has fallen nationally, statistics suggest that North Carolina’s children are not experiencing the same trend.North Carolina more than quadrupled the number of locked residential placements from 117 in 2005 to 494 in March 2010.

The State recently presented a plan that requires community-based services be tried before a more restrictive out-of-home placement is used. This plan uses a model called the System of Care, which is built on the involvement of children and families, the development of individualized treatment plans that meet the unique needs of each child and family, and the coordination of services among multiple providers of services. Yet each of these provider systems is facing devastating budget cuts. The System of Care may be a great model, but where are the funds to pay for the staff to implement it?

Reduced spending for North Carolina’s children with disabilities will only increase the pressure on an already strained system of care — resulting in more costly outcomes for everyone. Cuts to the system have been counterproductive.”

Click here to read their special report, Kids Caught in a Double Bind: North Carolina’s Failure to Care for Children with Dual Disabilities.

In case you missed it, a wide array of North Carolina advocates signed on to a letter yesterday from the Washington, DC-based Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. The letter urges Governor Perdue to address the state’s ongoing violation of federal law in its treatment of thousands of people with mental illness by warehousing them in so-called “adult care homes” by working with advocates rather than fighting them.

You can read the letter by clicking here.

Let’s hope the Guv gets the message.

The good folks at Disability Rights NC are calling on the Governor to avoid costly litigation with the federal government and, instead, work with them and others to fix the state’s broken system for delivering services to persons with mental disabilities.

It’s a good and strong letter and you can read it by clicking here.