North Dakota Protection & Advocacy Project
There is a protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities in each state and territory. Legislation establishing this system was passed by Congress in 1975.
In North Dakota, the organization designated by the Governor to serve as the protection and advocacy system is the Protection & Advocacy Project (P&A). P&A is an independent state agency established in 1977 to advance the human and legal rights of people with disabilities. P&A strives to create an inclusive society that values each individual.
People served include infants, children and adults of all ages. The majority of funds for program operations are from federal grants. Additional support is provided by the State of North Dakota. There is no cost for services, however, P&A does implement general eligibility requirements, including that the individual must reside within the State of North Dakota. P&A has eight different advocacy programs that serve individuals with disabilities:
- Developmental Disabilities Advocacy Program
- Mental Health Advocacy Program
- Protection & Advocacy Project for Individual Rights
- Protection & Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security
- Assistive Technology Advocacy Program
- Help America to Vote Program (HAVA)
- Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury
- Client Assistance Program
P&A has a governing board called the Committee on Protection & Advocacy. It consists of seven members whose terms are specified in State statute. Appointments are made by the Governor (2 members), Legislative Council (2 members), The Arc of North Dakota, Mental Health America of North Dakota, and a non-profit advocacy group for people with disabilities selected by the Committee. Currently this seat is filled by an appointee of Family Voices of ND.
P&A's staff comes from a wide variety of backgrounds. They are all trained to be knowledgeable about service delivery systems and the legal rights of people with disabilities.