The Olmstead Decision, a plan years in the making, is designed to help de-institutionalize people with disabilities. Friday, members of the cabinet who researched the plan presented their findings to the MISCC, or Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council. And those most likely to be affected by their findings were there to listen. Research shows transitioning out of institutions, ones like OD Heck in Schenectady, could provide opportunities for the disabled to get jobs and start families and for community members to better understand their new neighbors. Our Erin Vannella reports.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- "In an institution, you're pretty much locked up," said Schenectady resident Clint Perrin.
"Somebody's telling you what time to go to bed, what time to get up in the morning," said Buffalo resident Todd Vaarwerk.
"They don't have a lot of freedom to move around," said Perrin.
"You move out in the community, expectations get larger," said Vaarwerk.
Answering the plea for integration, the governor's office and Olmstead Cabinet met Friday to discuss their next move toward making the U.S. Supreme Court's 1999 decision a reality.
"There's always been goals to close institutions. Now it says we must close an institution by this date. So it sort of forces the situation," said NYS Self Advocacy Administration Administrative Director Steve Holmes.
What the governor calls a matter of civil rights is a plan to move people with disabilities out of more isolated environments and into the community, using money saved from the former to support the latter.
"In the past 10 years, in New York alone, moving people out of institutions to community based services and settings has saved the state over $10 billion," said Kingston resident Keith Gurgui.
But plan supporters accept change will take time and cooperation. But getting everyone, from the cabinet to the community, on the same page, they say, will be worth the wait.
"Everyone has something to offer. So to say that someone has nothing to offer is bologna," said Perrin.
"People with disabilities can think about having jobs and starting families and being parts of their community again," said Vaarwerk
"You can make your choice. If you choose to be on the welcoming side, just don't say that's what you feel, actually do it," said Perrin.