Department of Justice Consent Decree

The State of Rhode Island entered into a Settlement Agreement and Consent Decree with the United States Department of Justice in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The agreements address findings that the State violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in integrated settings, and by placing youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities at serious risk of segregation. Under the terms of these agreements, the State is committed to transform its service system over a 10-year period of time. The State is required to achieve certain goals each year. The ultimate goal is to provide integrated employment and day services for Rhode Islanders living with developmental disabilities.

Groups covered under the consent decree

Under the terms of the consent decree, the State is working to improve services for:

  • Youth in Transition – This group includes students who have not yet entered the adult services system. These are students who are ages 14-21, in secondary school, and eligible or likely to be eligible for developmental disability services as adults.
  • The “Youth Exit” Population – This group includes individuals who have left secondary school since 2013 and are eligible for adult developmental disability services.
  • The Sheltered Workshop Population – This group includes individuals who received services in a sheltered workshop in 2013, the year before the consent decree took effect.
  • The Segregated Day Services Population- This group includes individuals who received services in a segregated day program in 2013.

What the consent decree means for individuals and families
The State is working to ensure that every person covered by the consent decree has a person-centered career development plan. “Person centered” means the plan matches that person’s unique needs, interests and goals. For students who will be leaving school, this plan must include a plan to transition from youth to adult services. Plans must also include vocational (employment) goals.

Contacting Families about the Consent Decree
Some families received a letter recently about the Consent Decree. It was sent to folks who received services in 2012, or have left school since 2012. If you received a letter, you do not have to do anything. Because some individuals are a member of the Consent Decree’s target population, the State must provide them with the services they qualify for in the most integrated setting possible. The State must also provide information to help everyone understand the Consent Decree.

If you received a letter, and do not want to receive these services, you can opt out by emailing Anne.LeClerc@bhddh.ri.gov.
If you prefer to send a letter declining services, please mail to:

Anne LeClerc
BHDDH
14 Harrington Rd
Cranston, RI 02920

You can read the “Questions & Answers for Individuals and Families” document which was sent out to some individuals here. (versión en español)

If you have more questions, please call Anne LeClerc at (401) 462-0192.

Other changes underway
The consent decree applies to employment and day services for Rhode Islanders with developmental disabilities. But like states across the country, Rhode Island is making changes to our entire service system for people with developmental disabilities. These changes are helping to ensure equal opportunities and for all Rhode Islanders – at work, at home and in the community – regardless of disability status.

History of disability rights legislation
Over time, several key pieces of legislation have helped to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

  • 1975: Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act passed. This law secures the rights of students with disabilities to a free and appropriate education.
  • 1990: Americans with Disabilities Act signed into law. This law prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to p• 1999: United States Supreme Court holds in Olmstead v. L.C. that segregation of individuals with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.articipate in all aspects of public life.
  • 1999: United States Supreme Court holds in Olmstead v. L.C. that segregation of individuals with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Federal Court Filings

The documents below have been filed with the federal court under the terms of the consent decree.

Read the Court Monitor’s July 2016 Report here.

Please click here to read the Department's newsletter regarding the Consent Decree.

Court Filings