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PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY, COMMITTEE ON
[Authorized: NDCC 25-01.3]

Legislation in 1975 by the US Congress established a protection and advocacy system that would advance the human and legal rights of infants, children, and adults with disabilities. It was mandated that each state organize a protection and advocacy project and in 1977, the North Dakota Governor designated an independent committee to supervise and direct it. The Committee was to operate independently of the Governor and of any state agency that provided treatment, services, or habilitation to persons with disabilities or mental illnesses [NDCC 25-01.3-02]. Along with definitions and guidelines, the qualifications of the seven member board were spelled out. Members were appointed by the Governor and represented those who would be served by the project. Authority for the project was established and carried out by rules adopted by the Committee. Along with federal funding and within the limits of legislative appropriations the project would provide advocacy and protective services and protect the human and legal rights of those eligible persons with developmental disabilities or with mental illness. It would also monitor facilities for compliance with federal and state laws and rules. The role and authority of the director who was appointed by the Committee members was outlined. Issues of confidentiality, conflict of interest, and alternatives for refusal of services were also covered in the 1989 legislation (S. L. 1989, Ch. 333).

Since its inception the membership of the Committee on Protection and Advocacy has undergone changes. In 1995 the Committee members were designated and organizations were named to represent the broad range of needs of the disabled person. The Governor appointed two members to the Committee who served two year terms and the Legislative Council appointed a member from each house of the Legislative Assembly. Other members selected for three year terms were chosen from governing boards of the following organizations: Association for Retarded Citizens, People First of North Dakota, and the Mental Health Association (S. L. 1995, Ch. 267).

In 1999 the Association for Retarded Citizens became the ARC of North Dakota. Members appointed by ARC of North Dakota,  the Mental Health Association, and the Nonprofit Advocacy Group were to be individuals with disabilities eligible for services, or a parent, family member, guardian, advocate, or other authorized representative of an individual with disabilities who qualified for services. Committee members could not be involved directly with treatment, or advocacy services, or habilitation relating to disabilities and mental illness, and could not hold an interest in any entity that provided such service to the disabled or mentally ill (S. L. 1999, Ch. 249).

Information in possession of the Committee, the project, or any advocate relating to an individual with a disability was considered to be confidential and not subject to disclosure. The only exception to this law is when it is authorized in writing by the individual or the person’s personal representative (S. L. 2003, Ch. 211).

In 2007 People First of North Dakota was replaced with a North Dakota Nonprofit Advocacy Group for People with Disabilities (S. L. 2007, Ch. 255). The Committee appointed members from nonprofit advocacy groups from one of the eight North Dakota advocacy groups involved with people with disabilities programs. Each member was required to meet the federal eligibility requirements for membership on the Committee and no member could serve more than six years. Members served staggered terms.  Federal grants and support from the state of North Dakota provide the funding for the Committee. There is no cost for services for people residing in North Dakota.

CHRONOLOGY

1989       Creation of the Committee on Protection and Advocacy consisting of seven members who had knowledge of the needs of persons with developmental disabilities or mental illness. A director was hired to administer the project.  Legislation also placed the State Council of Developmental Disabilities and the Governor’s Council on Human Resources within the Office of the Governor (S. L. 1989, Ch. 333).

1995       Legislation provided a budget for the Committee and the seven members were selected by the Governor, Legislative Council, and agencies representing persons with disabilities and mental illness (S. L. 1995, Ch. 267).

1999       Changes in member selection and the scope of responsibilities (S. L. 1999, Ch. 249).        

2003       Legislation made changes to the confidentiality issues of the disabled and guidelines on the requirements for disclosure (S. L. 2003, Ch. 211).

2007       People First of North Dakota replaced by a Nonprofit Advocacy Group for Persons with Disabilities and Association of Retarded Citizens replaced by ARC of North Dakota (S. L. 2007, Ch. 255).

2011       Legislation in 2011 replaced the term mental retardation with “intellectual disabilities” (S. L. 2011, Ch. 207).
                               
SERIES

31853 Records.
31906 Federal Court Monitor Files.
31907 ARC Lawsuit Files.

SOURCES

North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota Protection and Advocacy Project Website.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.

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