The U.S. Department of Justice has determined that Maine has been violating federal law for years by not providing a man who has several disabilities and medical conditions with the help he needs in his home to go about his daily life, in a finding that could have ramifications for many more people with disabilities.
The state must grant him the services he is eligible for, and protect the civil rights of other people with disabilities who need support services, or else potentially face a lawsuit, according to a February 10 from the Justice Department to the Maine attorney general’s office.
The letter could have major implications for where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who require around-the-clock care can live. Currently, the state requires those with higher needs who are receiving Section 21 services to live in group homes, instead of allowing them to live at home with family members and have support staff come to them.
A spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services said it is reviewing the Justice Department’s letter “in close consultation with the attorney general’s office to determine next steps” and that its goal is “always to ensure that adults with developmental disabilities and autism receive the necessary services that best meet their needs.”
Others who care for people with disabilities questioned how the state will be able to meet the demands laid out by the Justice Department, given an ongoing struggle to find workers.