Selecting Our Priorities
Disability Rights Texas recognizes the varied needs of people with disabilities in Texas. Since the demand for our services far exceeds the availability of our staff and attorneys, cases are selected based on available resources and our priority areas.
We select our priority areas based on our federal mandates and with guidance from the public through what we call the priority setting process. Every four years we conduct a comprehensive survey in Texas of people with disabilities, our staff, disability service providers, policymakers, and others to help us identify these service priorities and make changes as required. We then provide recommendations to our Board of Directors who review them closely
Even though we conduct the survey every four years, our Board of Directors reviews our priorities each year to determine if there is a need for modification.
Because we cannot respond to all protection and advocacy needs within the state, the priority setting process helps us determine which issues and groups have the greatest need — so that our limited resources can be put to the best use.
For a complete list of our priorities, please open and/or download either of the following documents:
Mental Illness Advocacy
In 1986, Congress authorized the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program in the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act. The PAIMI program is funded through the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The PAIMI program was originally established to provide protection and advocacy services to individuals with significant mental illness or emotional impairment who were or had recently resided in institutional settings. In 2000, Congress expanded the PAIMI program to individuals living in both institutional and community settings, including their own homes, which complements the intent of the United States Supreme Court ruling in the Olmstead v. L.C. (527 U.S. 581).
Under the PAIMI program, P&As like Disability Rights Texas are authorized to investigate abuse and neglect and rights violations in all public and private facilities and community settings, including hospitals, nursing facilities and group homes – and to oversee the effectiveness of state agencies that license and regulate these programs.
PAIMI program staff also play a critical role in implementing SAMSHA’s Strategic Initiatives including an important role in ensuring that people with mental illness have access to education, housing, employment and other necessary supports and services in the community so they can remain in their communities and be economically self-sufficient. In addition, program staff work to reduce discrimination in employment, and housing.
Additionally, PAIMI program staff play an increasingly critical role in juvenile justice and adult correctional facilities where people with mental illness, who are not receiving the supports and services they need in the community, often end up incarcerated.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services has also mandated that the P&A System receive investigation reports of deaths and serious injuries related to restraint and seclusion practices in hospitals and psychiatric facilities.
Finally, in 2002 and 2003, Congress affirmed that the P&A System has a significant role in addressing the community integration needs of individuals with mental illness.