DD Ombuds issued a 20 page report: “No Way Out: an Introduction to the Community Protection Program (CPP). The report found that the CPP sweeps many young disabled people into highly restrictive settings. People in the CPP are deemed to pose a “risk” to others, and are often denied the ability to make their own choices, have relationships, or participate in community activities. As the title suggests, once a person is placed in CPP, there is typically “No Way Out”. Participants rarely “graduate” to a less restrictive place to live.
“We have been very disturbed by what we have heard from CPP participants about their treatment in the program”, said Betty Schwieterman, Washington’s Developmental Disabilities Ombuds. “We have received numerous complaints about restrictions that are unrelated to the reason the person entered the program, confusion about a path to graduation and the punishing nature of the program.
“No Way Out” includes complaints by CPP participants in their own words:
- If I don’t tell a lie for a year they said I can maybe I can play my favorite video game again.
- My case manager searched my room and took my movies and video games. They didn’t ask my permission and said I have no choice if I’m in CPP.
- I am not allowed to answer the phone in my own house. Why not? Staff are right here supervising me all the time.
- They keep making me talk about the mistake I made when I was 18. I haven’t made that mistake again, but I have to talk about it again next week. I’m now 37 years old.
- They don’t let me come to the first part of my own treatment team meeting. I have to sit outside and wait while my counselor, DDA, and the CPP staff are inside talking about me.
- In the treatment team meeting, everyone has a copy of the plan except for me.
Lisa Robbe, DD Ombuds in Spokane, said that the investigation was hampered by a slow response to requests for information about the Community Protection Program. “It took 5 months for the state to complete our request for records. Lisa said, “When we finally received them, we were alarmed that so many documents were dated after our request or missing information necessary to protect people from further abuse and neglect.
The DD Ombuds makes recommendations for changes in the Community Protection Program. These include:
- Resources to divert from CPP those young people who are identified as having possible “community protection issues.”
- End the practice of restricting services for people who decline to participate in CPP.
- Create a clear path to graduation using a person-centered planning process.
- Create clear timelines for DDA response to DD Ombuds’ requests for documents, and allow DD Ombuds direct electronic access to records.
- DDA Leadership should set clear expectations regarding the CPP program.
Washington State DD Ombuds Betty Schwieterman says that the DD Ombuds is working with DDA to address the issues raised in the report. The DD Ombuds will follow up with further investigation into the Community Protection Program.
The report is available on line on the DD Ombuds website:
There is also a version of the report that is read by a DD Ombuds staff member at:
Dedication: “No Way Out” is dedicated to Tony Hall. Tony was an active member of People First, a leader in the self-advocacy movement, and a member of the DD Ombuds Advisory Committee. Tony died this spring of complications from COVID-19. Tony advocated for changes to CPP, especially for himself and others to have a path out of the program.