In 1999 the United States Supreme Court held that states are required to provide community-based services to people with disabilities when: (a) such services are appropriate; (b) the affected persons do not oppose community-based treatment; and (c) community-based services can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the state and the needs of others who are receiving disability services from the state (Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581. (1999). Failure to comply violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court required states to develop working plans to provide services to individuals with disabilities, including seniors, in the most integrated settings possible. In 2000, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued guidelines to assist states in developing these plans, called the Olmstead Plan.
In 2005 federal surface transportation act (known as SAFETEA-LU), stressed the need for improved coordination between public transit and human services agencies in order to use federal transportation funds more efficiently. This requirement remained in the following federal surface transportation acts of MAP-21, signed in 2012 and the FAST Act, signed in 2015.
In addition, Federal transit law requires that projects selected for funding under the Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities (Section 5310) Program be "included in a locally developed, coordinated public transit human services transportation plan," and that the plan be "developed and approved through a process that included participation by seniors, individuals with disabilities, representatives of public, private, and nonprofit transportation and human services providers and other members of the public" utilizing transportation services. These coordinated plans identify the transportation needs of individuals with disabilities, older adults, and people with low incomes, provide strategies for meeting these needs, and prioritize transportation services for funding and implementation. (https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grants/coordinated-public-transit-human-services-transportation-plans)
More than ten years have passed since these policies and requirements were established. Even with them in place, coordination of transportation needs and public transit demands between social service and transportation agencies remains a complex task. This research will look at selected states to provide best practices of coordinated transportation planning, determine if there are ways to leverage funding between various agencies that are serving the Olmstead population, assess the need to provide more flexibility in federal funding regulations that may prevent multi-agency coordination from happening, and to find the best tools out there to most effectively and efficiently provide the needed transportation services to Olmstead population.
The objective of this research is to generate a portfolio of case studies and tools that State DOTs and other social service agencies, such as Health and Human Services, Education, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, and the Social Security Administration, could use to address the transportation needs and public transit demands to support the integration of the Olmstead population in community settings.