Sept. 16, 2021, marked the 28th anniversary of the Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems, Inc., better known in the community as NMPASI.
Every state and territory within the United States operates a system that is dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities who may face discrimination in employment, access to government services, and access to the community as a result of their disability. In 1993, NMPASI was established as a private, non-profit disability rights law organization for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Prior to the creation of NMPASI, Protection & Advocacy, or P&A, services were offered through Catholic Social Services and Karidat Social Services. These services were put in place to provide legal services to distinct populations of people with disabilities. The first P&A program to enter the CNMI back in 1984 was the Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities program, which provided rights protections for people who were born with a disability or acquired a disability prior to age 22.
Since the establishment of NMPASI in 1993, services for people with disabilities have grown. The CNMI P&A programs have expanded to eight federally funded programs that help people with varying types of disabilities. Eligibility for these programs differs based on an individual’s type of disability and the nature of the alleged rights violation they have experienced.
Since 2006, NMPASI has provided services to over 3,000 people with disabilities who encountered disability discrimination in the areas of architectural access, abuse, education, employment, government benefits and services, health care, housing, insurance, neglect, program access, seclusion and restraint, transportation, and voting.
As we look forward to the years ahead, we would like to inform our community that NMPASI is here to help. Whether through providing Information and referral on disability-related issues, direct client representation or legal advice, or facilitating trainings, NMPASI is your protection and advocacy system.
Gregory Borja is program manager at the Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems Inc.