The Olmstead Decision Celebrates its 24th Anniversary

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The Olmstead Decision turns 24 this year, emphasizing the need for people with disabilities to receive care in a community-based setting.

By Sydney Kerelo


On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson in the Olmstead v. L.C. case under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Because of this case, thousands of people with disabilities became integrated into their community.

In 1999, two Georgia women with developmental disabilities—Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson—received voluntary mental health services at a psychiatric unit at the State-run Georgia Regional Hospital. But, despite being allowed to receive treatment in a community-based setting, Curtis and Wilson were confined in the institution for several years.

To ensure this type of treatment doesn’t continue to happen to people with disabilities, the women brought their cause forth to the Supreme Court.

According to ACL.gov, “Because of Olmstead, community living has been the cornerstone of the disability rights movement and is at the core of the Administration for Community Living’s mission to maximize independence, well-being, and health of older adults, people with disabilities across the lifespan.”


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The court ruled that public entities must provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when appropriate, additionally if the persons affected do not oppose the community-based treatment and community-based services.

The Olmstead Decision helped change the lives of people with disabilities by allowing them to be integrated into their community and establish a rich and meaningful life.

KenCrest has advocated for community-based services for people with disabilities since 1975, when the Supreme Court signed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In 1986, KenCrest began depopulating its Rivercrest location and moved 75 people into homes within the community to create an inclusive environment for the people they support.

Since then, KenCrest continues to provide community-based services to adults in Pennsylvania through habilitation services, companion care, respite services, community participation opportunities, and specialized skill development.