Changing lives, changing attitudes.
The Minnesota Disability Law Center (MDLC) is the designated Protection and Advocacy System (P&A)
for Minnesota and addresses the unique legal needs of Minnesotans with disabilities. MDLC provides free civil legal assistance to individuals with disabilities statewide on legal issues related to their disabilities. All individuals with
disabilities are eligible to receive help, regardless of age or income level.
The Disability Law Center represented people in 79 of Minnesota’s 87 counties on issues related to their disabilities in 2014. Access to community services needed for independence, such as Medicaid waiver services, PCAs, and mental health services was the largest area of need for 61% of clients served.
Working to ensure clients' rights
Legal Aid attorneys work with people with disabilities to ensure they: 1) receive the necessary support and services to live independent and productive lives in the community; 2) are not victims of abuse or discrimination; and 3) receive vocational rehabilitation services to which every individual is entitled.
Services range from educating clients about services that are available to them, to advocating on their behalf and representing clients in court and hearings. We also offer access to community legal education resources and other materials to help inform people with disabilities about their rights to services.
MDLC has four goals to address the legal needs of clients with disabilities. MDLC advocates to:
- Eliminate Abuse and Neglect
- Increase Integration and Decrease Discrimination
- Increase Access to Appropriate Services
- Increase statewide awareness of MDLC as an Advocacy Resource
School Restraint and Seclusion Project
The Minnesota Disability Law Center has issued a report on the use of restraint and seclusion on students in Minnesota Public Schools. The report is based on a review of MDLC intakes, analysis of state complaint and hearing decisions and survey responses from special education directors, advocates and parents. In addition to offering recommendations to policy makers and school districts, the report provides estimates of restraint and seclusion use, shows patterns of use and discusses promising practices.
Children and adults with mental illnesses have been able to use Personal Care Assistant (PCA) services as part of a plan of care to help them function in their homes and communities. PCA services are available statewide, and are an important support even when an adult or child is receiving other community-based mental health services. However, eligibility criteria were made more restrictive beginning January 1, 2010.
Legal Aid has been advocating on behalf of these Minnesotans with disabilities to help them retain PCA services.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) authorizes Protection & Advocacy Agencies to ensure full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities, including registering to vote, casting a vote and accessing polling places.
For information about changes in Minnesota law that make it easier for people to vote, see MDLC’s article in Access Press.