DOJ: Maine violates ADA in care of kids with disabilities
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine unnecessarily institutionalizes youths with mental health and developmental disabilities because of a lack of sufficient community-based services that would allow them to stay in their homes, the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday in declaring a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Justice Department conducted its investigation after advocacy group Disability Rights Maine filed a complaint on behalf of a group of children. The rights organization said the children were not able to access community-based services, resulting in institutionalization or risk of institutionalization that violated the ADA.
The Justice Department concurred, saying it found many Maine children with disabilities are unable to live with family because of the state's lack of community services. That means children in the state enter emergency rooms, come into contact with law enforcement and then remain in institutions when they could otherwise remain in their homes, the department said.
“I hope that the violations identified by the Justice Department can be remedied so that these children and their families are able to obtain quality services in their own communities," U.S. Attorney Darcie N. McElwee for the District of Maine said in a statement.
The Justice Department findings said the state suffers from lengthy waitlists, too few behavioral health providers, and a lack of crisis services and support for foster care parents. That means many children need to enter facilities, including out-of-state facilities and the state-run juvenile detention facility Long Creek Youth Development Center, to receive behavioral health services, the department found.
The Justice Department findings include recommendations for how the state can come into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act....