Vicki Smith

A big step forward for children with complex needs in North Carolina

By: - November 28, 2016

Let me tell you about a girl I’ll call O.B. Her story exposes a lot of what’s wrong with North Carolina’s behavioral health system. O.B. has moderate to severe intellectual disability and autism, as well as intermittent explosive disorder. She is non-verbal and has a history of aggression, self-injury, and property destruction. She is what […]

Inmate’s death the result of a cascading series of mental health system failures

By: - October 8, 2014

There has been a lot of media coverage about the death of Michael Anthony Kerr, an inmate with schizophrenia at Alexander Prison. His personal story is heartrending but sadly familiar. After being in and out of jail, Mr. Kerr was sentenced to prison as a habitual felon. He was incarcerated far from his family. In […]

DMV bureaucracy unfairly burdens safe drivers with disabilities

By: - September 2, 2014

Rebecca Kay sustained an injury at age 16 that caused permanent damage. That did not stop her though from driving for 44 years without any modifications to her cars. Her decades-old injury was not getting any worse. In 2013, however, much to Rebecca’s surprise, North Carolina’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) added a restriction to […]

A glaring gap in North Carolina’s Medicaid program

By: - July 28, 2014

Changing North Carolina’s Medicaid system has been a major topic of debate the 2014 “short session” of the General Assembly. Common to most of the proposals under consideration is the principle of “integrated health care.” Integrated health care, or “whole person care,” refers to a system that offers coordinated physical and mental/behavioral health care. It […]

Disabled North Carolinians: Still treated as second class citizens

By: - April 28, 2014

There are growing calls for increasing the minimum wage so working people can earn enough to support themselves and their families. Few people realize that the Fair Labor Standards Act, adopted in 1938, and which created the minimum wage, allows employers to pay a subminimum wage to workers with disabilities. Today in North Carolina, thousands […]

New state transportation plan fails to include people with disabilities

By: - February 5, 2014

The NC Department of Transportation recently released a plan for the state’s transportation needs looking forward to 2040. The plan “focuses on the policies and programs needed to enhance safety, improve mobility, and reduce congestion for all transportation modes.” Transportation is moving ‘something’ from one place to another. And in much of the plan the […]

People with disabilities desperately need Medicaid to expand

By: - December 16, 2013

With all the media coverage of supposed cost overruns and genuine IT troubles for North Carolina’s Medicaid program (the public health insurance system for low income people), many often forget how limited Medicaid coverage actually is. For instance, while Medicaid covers many adults with disabilities, many others are left out completely. Consider the following rather […]

Obamacare benefits the disabled

By: - September 30, 2013

Political disagreements have linked the viability of the Affordable Care Act to a potential shut down of the federal government. The fight over the ACA is in the news daily. Will the law survive? Whatever your opinions, there is still one truth: The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. While things could […]

ADA anniversary a reminder of the importance of work for persons with disabilities

By: - August 1, 2013

I recently went to an event where there were many people I didn’t know. After asking my name, the next question each person I met asked was “Where do you work?” As adults we are defined and often judged by the work we do. In addition to earning a living, work affords us a certain […]

The voters no one is talking about

By: - April 29, 2013

The proposed changes to North Carolina’s voting laws have dominated political headlines for the past few months. Is voter fraud a significant problem in our state? Will a requirement of government-issued photo IDs unnecessarily infringe on the right to vote? Should students be able to vote where they live? Absent from the headlines and the […]

Newtown tragedy highlights need for better mental health services

By: - December 26, 2012

In the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting, there has been a predictable uptick in public discussion of mental health care and treatment. In the wake of such a jarring tragedy, it is natural that we all want an explanation—some way to fit this terrible story into the way we think about the world. […]

New state leaders need to master the facts in the mental health debate

By: - December 10, 2012

Irrespective of our political views, I and most everyone I know were relieved to see campaign season end. This campaign season was divisive. Differences between candidates and parties were not just highlighted, they were polarizing. With the election over, winning candidates must move from campaigning to governing. To govern successfully, our newly elected officials need […]