“Is ADA enforcement slowing down?”
Almost every day, we hear this question from park and recreation agencies across the United States. With the changing regulatory climate in Washington, D.C., and reduced staff levels in every federal agency, including the Department of Justice (DOJ), it’s a legitimate question for which there isn’t a simple answer.
In some areas, specifically Project Civic Access Settlement Agreements, enforcement today looks like it did under previous administrations. A good example is a settlement agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and KinderCare, a child care provider with more than 1,800 locations nationwide. As part of this settlement, KinderCare agreed to a surprising series of actions regarding children with type 1 diabetes, including the following:
- Individually evaluate every request for modification based on disability, relying on objective evidence and current medical standards.
- Train staff on the administration of insulin by pen, syringe or pump, when deemed necessary by a physician.
- Use the KinderCare Manager of Inclusion to assist in analyzing requests for modifications and developing policies.
- Require KinderCare to contact all parents within 60 days, from all 1,800 locations, that have requested a modification in the last full year, making them aware that KinderCare policy has changed and that an interactive plan development process is in place (this stage also requires extensive records be kept by KinderCare).
- Within 60 days, submit to U.S. DOJ policies that will implement this Settlement.
- Assess children with disabilities who request a modification due to disability, and must grant the request, deny the request or make a narrow request for more information to help decide how to answer the request.
- Provide accessibility and inclusion training for managers at several levels within the organization, within 180 days.
Settlement Agreements between the enforcement agency and the implementing agency are binding. These agreements are guidance for other agencies, but they are not binding on those agencies. So, why is this important for park and recreation agencies?
Congress wanted units of government to do more, and do it sooner, regarding the ADA than businesses and nonprofits. Virtually, every park and recreation agency serves children, and children with type 1 diabetes live in almost every community, so this is an issue for your agency.
At the WT Group, we rarely find a unit of local government that isn’t aware that existing sites and facilities must have an access audit, and that a transition plan (a phased retrofit schedule) must be developed. But, it is common for us to hear agency staff ask whether policies must be evaluated for Title II compliance in section 35.105, and whether programs must be evaluated to determine if they are inclusive, as required by Title II section 35.130(d). The answer to both questions is yes.
Our team of experts, led by Shelley Zuniga, Heidi Lapin and John McGovern, can help your agency conduct access audits of sites and policies, and evaluate how your agency supports inclusive participation. Email John McGovern or call 224.293.6451 to take advantage of your NRPA discount.