The Arc of Virginia to Receive National Award for Victory on Closing Institutions

Washington, DC – On October 26, The Arc of Virginia will be honored with The Arc’s Advocacy Matters! Award for their ongoing advocacy work on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in Virginia. The Arc of Virginia played an instrumental role in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reaching an historic settlement (U.S. v. Virginia Settlement Agreement) requiring the state to close some institutions and provide community-based services for thousands of individuals with I/DD.  The award will be presented during The Arc of the United States’ National Convention and International Forum. Jamie Liban, Executive Director of The Arc of Virginia will accept the award on behalf of the organization.

“The Arc of Virginia has tirelessly advocated on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for decades. Like all civil rights victories, there were many advocates working for a common cause leading up to this historic settlement. We are proud of the amazing work of Jamie Liban, The Arc of Virginia Board of Directors and the thousands of advocates who helped make this a reality for the people of Virginia,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Judge John A. Gibney of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued an order approving the settlement in U.S. v. Virginia Settlement Agreement on August 23. The signing of the court order means that Virginia will move from a system that is reliant on large, segregated institutions to one that is focused on safe, integrated community-based services.  Virginia will close four of five institutions and provide new Medicaid waiver services for more than 4,000 individuals.  Once the waivers are fully funded, thousands of individuals with I/DD will receive the services they need to remain in their homes in the community and many individuals living in institutions will be able to move into community settings.

Jamie Liban will also participate in a concurrent session with officials from the Department of Justice during convention. During the session, she will share The Arc of Virginia’s experience over the course of the DOJ investigation, negotiations and litigation, as well as The Arc of Virginia’s plans to continue its advocacy work throughout the implementation phase. The session will provide an overview of activities related to the U.S. v. Virginia Settlement Agreement and advise other chapters of The Arc on how they can support DOJ in their enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Olmstead decision, a ruling that requires states to eliminate unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities and to ensure that persons with disabilities receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.