March 31, 2016, a federal class-action lawsuit was filed by Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) advocates claiming that the state of Ohio is illegally segregating individuals with developmental disabilities. The purpose of the lawsuit is to increase choices for people with disabilities, particularly with regard to more options for people with disabilities to live, work, and socialize in the community. You can read the full lawsuit here.
This lawsuit comes at the tail end of our journey out of segregated services.
In 2010, Starfire’s transformation from segregated services to integrated supports for people with developmental disabilities began. Six years ago we gathered families, people with disabilities, board members, staff, and volunteers to build a new Strategic Plan together with the realization that Starfire’s previous model of focusing on social entertainment and fun only produced a temporary, unsustainable impact on people with disabilities’ experience of social isolation.
Our change was intentional. We felt we had a moral obligation to shift away from segregated services and instead into focusing all of our work in supporting people with disabilities into growing in relationships with ordinary citizens, making choices, experiencing respect, making contributions, and sharing ordinary community places with other citizens.
It has been the right path for Starfire to take though it was not without difficulties. We know that organizations, families, and people with disabilities embarking on this shift will face many of the same challenges we have overcome, and continue to wrestle with. This journey is not without many tough conversations, difficult questions, and time.
And yet, it has led to our most worthwhile, and beautiful work to date.
We believe that the responsibility to change is not just on the service system, but also relies on caring people who are willing to build relationships with people with disabilities and families who are interested in being part of this social innovation. Starfire believes the future of disability support belongs in the community. We know that you cannot legislate love or force friendship. That is why we are devoted to supporting people with developmental disabilities in finding their place in community by working in a person-centered model, by partnering with families, ordinary people, and businesses who believe in our mission.
We are steadfast in continuing our work in light of this recent litigation and committed to including our friends, family members and neighbors with disabilities as the central focus of our work: one person at a time.