A recent Star Tribune article reviewed the findings from Minnesota’s first comprehensive quality of life survey of individuals with disabilities. “Nineteen years after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling opened the doors to integration, thousands of Minnesotans with disabilities continue to live and work in segregated settings that keep them in poverty and limit their daily autonomy. These are among the principal findings of the state’s first comprehensive survey examining the quality of life of nearly 50,000 Minnesotans with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities who spend most of their time in settings such as group homes, nursing facilities and cloistered workplaces known as sheltered workshops.” 

 

Read the full article here.

 

The comprehensive survey can be found here.

 

A letter to the editor was submitted in response to the March 28 Star Tribune article is below:

 

A Good Life for All

 

We know that every person has his or her own vision of what a good life means.  Unfortunately, we also know there are significant barriers in the path of thousands of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families across Minnesota as they seek the most basic choices so that they can have a good life.

 

The Olmstead Quality of Life Survey referenced in the March 28 Star Tribune story, “Segregation and inequality persist among Minnesotans with disabilities, study says,” describes the challenges to a good life for people with disabilities. While the Quality of Life survey included only people living or involved in daytime activities primarily with other individuals with disabilities, many of the issues are shared by people with disabilities who live with their families or in their own homes, or pursue competitive employment.

 

Those issues include having more opportunities to make decisions, access to health care, community inclusion, education, employment, housing, transportation, and the difficult reality of isolation. We must remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from having a chance to reach their full potential and be valued as fully participating members of the community. A broader range of choices, opportunities, and supports backed by crucial long-term financial support, are key to making progress for people with disabilities and their families.

 

Achieving full participation will require change. Today, The Arc Minnesota and partner advocacy organizations, direct care providers, coalitions including This is Medicaid, Best Life Alliance, and The MN Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities, and government agencies, are working together to create new approaches and systems change reforms to increase the level of independence, inclusion, and quality of life for all people with disabilities.

 

Success will require a place at the decision-making table for those who are directly impacted by a disability—the individuals, their families, caregivers and friends. Change will also require that communities intentionally plan to include people of all abilities.

 

At the same time, people with disabilities and their families need support based on where they are at today, and where they aim to be in the future. We must support the work of organizations that provide direct care and professionals supporting people with disabilities. Specifically, support for Medicaid, Social Security, and other public funding sources is critical as those sources pay for nearly all services and financial assistance for people with disabilities. Addressing the critical shortage of well-trained direct care and nursing staff is also vital to provide basic care, ensure safety, and create social connections.

 

The mission of The Arc Minnesota, a non-profit in our state for over 70 years, is to promote and protect the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, actively supporting them and their families in a lifetime of full inclusion and participation in their communities. We believe that data provided by the Olmstead Quality of Life Survey, along with existing state and national information, provides a compelling definition of the need.  It is up to us as Minnesotans working together.

 

Kim Keprios

Chief Executive Officer

The Arc Minnesota

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