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ICF Guardians Efforts to Fight the DRO Lawsuit

Parents, families and guardians from Brookside Care Center and Takoda Trails met with Caroline Lahrmann on February 28, 2018 to discuss the lawsuit filed by Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) against the state of Ohio.  

In March 2016, DRO filed Ball v. Kasich on behalf of seven plaintiffs who are seeking to have the Court allow a class action lawsuit on behalf of approximately 27,800 people, Including approximately 5,800 residents of ICFs in Ohio.  The plaintiffs in the lawsuit assert that “with appropriate services and supports even individuals with complex conditions can be safely and effectively served in integrated, community-based settings”.  The lawsuit attacks the disability care model involving ICFs, sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs and asserts that “virtually any person institutionalized or at serious [risk of] institutionalization in a large ICF can be served safely and successfully in an integrated, home and community-based setting”.

We fully support the full continuum of care for individuals with I/DD, including community settings.  However, parents and guardians know that there is a diverse range of disabilities and the funding to provide care for individuals with disabilities is limited.  We believe that the clear intent of the current lawsuit is to take away substantial funding from ICFs, sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs and to shift that funding to programs in community based settings.  We further believe that, if such an effort is successful, the result would be that Individuals who require and choose more intensive care, at present or in the future, will not be able to obtain the services and support they need, because ICFs, sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs that care for them will have little to no funding.  

In fighting the lawsuit, parents and guardians of ICF residents wanted to ensure that the rights of our family members and others receiving facility-based care at present or who may choose this care-level in the future are not diminished simply because we did not have a seat at the table in this litigation.  We wanted to ensure that someone is involved in the proceedings who represents our interests and the interests of our loved ones, in preserving ICFs, sheltered workshop, facility-based day programs and the level of care they provide.  

As such, in April 2017, eight guardians representing 10 ICF residents filed a pro se motion to intervene in the lawsuit so that we would bring the interests of ICF residents before the court.  This motion was joined by 99 other pro se guardians representing ICF residents throughout the State of Ohio.  

In July, Chief Judge Sargus granted our motions to intervene.  We are now party to the suit and have a seat at the table to ensure the fair resolution of this case.  

ICF Guardians have since retained legal counsel who have filed Motion so to Oppose Class Certification.  Currently, we away the Courts ruling on these motions.  

Additional information an be found at www.DisabilityAdvocacyAlliance.org.   We also maintain a Facebook page at Disability Advocacy Alliance Ohio.  Please feel free to also contact Caroline Lahrmann at 614-359-9323, calnwal@aol.com.

The Takoda Trails parent group voted and agreed to donate $1,000.00 to support the legal defense of those who choose to receive care in an ICF, as well as sheltered workshops and facility-based workshops.