Paige Barton spent 15 years in an Ohio institution before proving her self-sufficiency. She became a leader of self-advocates in Maine, eventually forming the advocacy group Speaking Up for Us (SUFU).
The second decade of the 21st century ushered in big changes to state government. An economic downturn and a new administration ushered in alongside others in an austerity-based, small government movement led to budget cuts and staffing freezes at the Department of Human Services. Over this decade, waitlists for services exploded, especially for Section 21 services, which serve those who need daily support to live full lives.
In an attempt to consolidate and eliminate bureaucracy, in 2003 a bill was proposed at the Legislature to merge the Department of Human Services and the Department of Behavioral and Developmental Servicers (formerly the Department of Mental Retardation) into one department: the Department of Health and Human Services.
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.
Despite a growing understanding that community-based services were a better choice for individuals than institutionalization, switching from a consolidated and hierarchical system to one of many service providers helping smaller numbers of clients follow personalized plans for success was difficult, and the path forward had many hurdles to overcome.
Born in 1802 in Hampden, Maine, Dorothea Lynde Dix became a fierce advocate for the poor and the mentally ill, who worked to create the first mental asylums in the United States.
"It was like going to a strange place. I had to get used to the place. What they did was my mother and father drove over to the building where they did the signing to let the person come to Pineland and then from there I went to a hospital."
"My folks couldn’t come for a while, because where I was just—It hurt me to see them to leave and I got really upset and crying and stuff and they were going to come in and put me in a straitjacket and give me a shot. I finally calmed down, you know, it took me a while, but it was just like they put me there and they went off. It hurt me so bad, you know. It wasn’t my kind of place to be."
"But when he came back home I believe there was a time when Mom and Dad talked to him, not knowing really if he understood, but just telling him that “We didn’t know. We didn’t know what was happening, we didn’t know how sad you were We didn’t know what was going on and we will never, ever send you away again.” And he just began—I think at that point he began to heal."
"They had to have bodyguards when I take a shower and everything. Just for one minute they didn’t leave the area. They had to have bodyguards there to watch out what you’re doing. I didn’t like that either. Privacy. That’s not good."