What is Citizen Advocacy?

The mission of Citizen Advocacy is to promote the protection of and advocacy for, people who are devalued, usually due to a mental and or physical disability.

Citizen Advocacy programs bring the needs and interests of an individual who is at risk of social isolation to the attention of a citizen who, with support of the Citizen Advocacy office, will respond to those needs through a freely given, usually long-lasting advocacy relationship.

 “Citizen Advocacy occurs when an ordinary citizen voluntarily represents the interests and concerns of another person who has a developmental disability as if they were his or her own.”

Why Citizen Advocacy?

We know that all people benefit physically, spiritually and emotionally from meaningful, personal relationships.

 Citizen Advocacy is important because people with disabilities sometimes experience abuse, neglect and are excluded from the circles of everyday life.


Delores and Lauren’s Story

Citizen Advocate Lauren Stevens tells the story of her and her family’s 40-year relationship with Delores, a woman with an intellectual disability. She shares stories about Delores’ love of singing, shopping, and sharing cake with friends, and the impact the relationship had on everyone involved.

In 1970, the first Citizen Advocacy program opened in Lincoln, Nebraska. Since that time, it has spread throughout the U.S. and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Europe. Disability Rights Nebraska has provided training and technical assistance to local Citizen Advocacy programs since 1978. For more information, contact us through our website at https://www.disabilityrightsnebraska….


Legislature passes bill to require plan to serve people with disabilities in most integrated settings

Lincoln, May 21, 2019 – On May 14th the Legislature voted to pass LB 570 which requires the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to develop an “Olmstead Plan” to insure that services are provided to Nebraskans with disabilities in the “most integrated” community-based settings.  This includes people who experience intellectual / developmental disabilities and / or mental illness.  The bill was signed into law by the Governor on May 17, 2019.

The bill sets out a completion date of December 15, 2019 for the plan and requires DHHS to hire an independent consultant to assist with its continued analysis and revision.  The bill would also include State funding to support the process.

The Olmstead Plan is intended to address the United States Supreme Court ruling from 1999 that held that the unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes segregation, and that public entities must provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when:

  1. Such services are appropriate;
  2. The affected persons do not oppose community-based treatment; and
  3. Community-based services can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available and the needs of others who are receiving disability services.

States without Olmstead Plans are vulnerable to lawsuits from the private entities or the federal government. However, more than the plan itself is needed to protect the State from legal action.  The plan must also be implemented and shown to be effective by demonstrating that individuals have been successfully moved into integrated settings. As a result, LB570 requires that progress on the plan’s implementation must be reported to the Legislature every three years beginning December 15, 2021.

 Advocates, including Disability Rights Nebraska and Nebraska’s Developmental Disability Network*, worked with State Senator Lynne Walz (Fremont) to craft LB570.  The Nebraska Council on Developmental Disabilities provided funding to implement the early phase of developing the plan, in the absence of a funding commitment from the State.

“We are extremely pleased that the Legislature and Governor recognize the importance of having a good Olmstead plan in place for Nebraska,” said Disability Rights’ Senior Staff Attorney Dianne DeLair.  “This provides the opportunity for Nebraskans to be actively engaged in the development of an Olmstead plan that is right for Nebraska.  By having a good plan in place, along with making a good faith effort to implement the plan, we may be able to avoid protracted and costly litigation in order to ensure that all Nebraskans with disabilities are able to fully exercise their right to choose to live in the most integrated community settings.”

An overview of the Olmstead decision and additional resources can be found at https://www.disabilityrightsnebraska.org/what_we_do/olmstead-decision/olmstead-plan-bill-passed.html

When Life Is Stronger

“One of the biggest flaws in our approach to life is the Western belief that competition creates strong and healthy systems. But competition among individuals is not the dominant way life works. It is always cooperation that increases over time in a living system. Life becomes strong through systems of collaboration and partnering, not through competition.”

Margaret Wheatly

Thank You!

The Board of Directors sincerely appreciates the many generous donations we received during the North Platte Giving Day.  Your contribution will help support existing citizen advocacy relationships, help initiate new ones, and sustain this important work for years to come.

We are awed and inspired by the generosity of the North Platte community.  The support given to the non-profits participating in Giving Day is a testimony to the generous people who are North Platte. We thank you!

Why Build Social Capital? 

Why Build Social Capital?                                       by Al Condeluci, Ph.D.

The notion of friendship is a critical one to the human condition.  In fact, friendship is often a concept that is thought to be so simple that it hardly merits any deep study or discussion.  All of us know that friendships are important, but rarely do we ever think we must work at the concept.  However, the notion of friendship is a critical one to ponder, and in a way, we should not be pushed by sentiment to become more conscious of our need for friendship.

Sociologists refer to friendship as “Social Capital.”  To the academics, the term “capital” is one that speaks to resources that can advance or promote a profit.  They talk about physical capital which refers to things like land or machinery.  Economic capital might refer to goods, or services that drive an economy.  “Human capital” is often thought to be the people needed to do the work to create the goods or services.

Continue reading Why Build Social Capital?