It can be difficult to obtain services for disabled young adults who age out of the school system unless they are in an institution, which is why expanding community support for people with disabilities has received renewed attention.

Expanding Community Support for People with DisabilitiesU.S. Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY has recently sponsored legislating guaranteeing that all people with disabilities who are eligible for institutional care can receive necessary services at home or in a setting they choose.

The legislation is called the Disability Integration Act, and if passed would bring dramatic changes.

Current law assures that people with disabilities who need assistance with eating, bathing, and daily activities will be cared for in nursing homes and institutions. Community based services are much more limited, and there are often long waiting lists.

Under Schumer’s legislation, waiting lists would be outlawed, along with caps on services.

“Individuals with disabilities have the right to live independent, fulfilling lives amongst their families and friends – but right now, they are often denied the kind of at-home services and supports that then keep them in institutional settings, far from their loved ones and communities,” Schumer said. “We need to be doing everything in our power to make sure they have the resources needed to live and thrive in the comfort of their own homes.”

“I fought for decades to get out of the institution,” said Shelly Perrin, a Rochester, N.Y. advocate. “My family abandoned me. The staff at the institution refused to help me and punished me for trying to leave. There are thousands of people still trapped in institutions. This bill gives me hope, because the right that I had to fight so hard for will be written down in the law.”

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