Category Archives: Citizen Advocacy


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

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

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? 

Our Story

Citizen Advocacy initiates and supports one-to-one matches involving vulnerable people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with valued citizens who are unpaid and independent of the human service system. The matches are independent of the human service system and the Citizen Advocacy office. Once the match is made, the role of the office is to provide support.

The following vignette illustrates the process and impact of our work.
Wayne and Ken: Ken, disabled at birth was in the Beatrice home until the age for 42. He had limited speech and physical abilities and was eventually moved to a Group Home in North Platte. Wayne was recruited by the Citizen Advocacy office to advocate for Ken. Wayne began to form a personal connection with Ken and to become an important part of his life. As a Citizen Advocate, Wayne made a freely given, long-term commitment to protect Ken’s rights and interests as if they were his own. He has been a faithful and dedicated presence in Ken’s life for over twelve years and Ken is safer as a result. Wayne, eventually, was appointed Ken’s Guardian and has played a key role in making decisions on his behalf ever since. One of those important decisions involved moving Ken to a better place to live. Although it has taken some time, Ken has learned to trust and to rely on Wayne. As Wayne puts it, ‘the door has been opened.’ The relationship has also evolved and strengthened and continues today.