The DRVT history begins in the mid 1970’s. The Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Program (PADD) was created by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 1975. The federal government provided funding to each State to pursue legal, administrative, and other appropriate remedies to protect and advocate for the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities. As a result, the Vermont Protection & Advocacy system was established under the name Vermont Protection & Advocacy in the fall of 1976. In order to carry out its federal mandate, it funded a special project of Vermont Legal Aid known as the VT Developmental Disabilities Law Project (now known as the Disability Law Project) to provide these services to Vermonters with developmental disabilities. This expanded in the late 70’s to include a separate citizen advocacy component to complement the legal advocacy component. This component became an independent organization – Vermont Citizens Advocacy.
The Client Assistance Program (CAP) was established as a mandatory program by the 1984 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act. CAP services include assistance in pursuing administrative, legal and other appropriate remedies to ensure the protection of persons receiving or seeking services under the Rehabilitation Act such as the VT Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. The Client Assistance Program was previously carried out by Vermont Citizens Advocacy but is now administered through the Disability Law Project.
In 1986, Congress found that individuals with a mental illness were vulnerable to abuse and neglect, at which time, they passed the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with a Mental Illness Act of 1986. We refer to this federal mandate as PAIMI. The enactment of PAIMI resulted in additional funding to DRVT, the designated system in Vermont. The PAIMI Act authorized DRVT to protect and advocate for the rights of people with mental illness and to investigate and respond to reports of abuse, neglect and rights violations in facilities that care for or treat individuals with mental illness.