In February of 2000, in response to the federal Olmstead decision requiring services for people with developmental disabilities in the least restrictive environment possible, the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services created the Workgroup for Community-Based Living. This taskforce was charged with developing “an interdepartmental approach for ensuring that publicly funded services are provided to people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs and preferences”, and was made up of people with disabilities, family members, advocates, and multiple state agency representatives.
The resulting report, published in October of 2003, identified issues within the systems of care, established core values with which to approach service provision, and named three top priorities:
The Workgroup expressed a vision by and for people with disabilities that still resonates to this day, including in their report items like, “Honoring individual dignity means listening to and respecting each person’s dreams and aspirations and respecting each person’s right to make choices” and “Services must be accessible, affordable, and available. They should be flexible enough to meet the changing needs of each individual as their needs change.” The report’s recommendations included items that we have seen debated across the history described in this timeline, including more choice and self-determination, better coordination across the system of services, and more support of and training for direct service workers.