Topic: developmental disabilities
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September 2, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Nice idea, in theory
A recent Seattle Times editorial called for the closure of state-run residential habilitation centers (RHCs) for people living with developmental disabilities. [“Editorial: Reset inequity for state’s most vulnerable,” Opinion, Aug. 25.]
The resulting cost savings would then be directed toward reducing the number of eligible people on waiting lists for needed services.
On the surface, this is a laudable plan. However, the simple logic of a well-intentioned strategy doesn’t hold up well when one examines the cost savings of moving people from institutions and into the community more closely.
Make no mistake; for most people, we favor community living over RHCs.
What we do not support is the logic of creating the savings by shifting care to supported-living agencies whose workers receive shamefully low wages. These workers, according to the 2011 Residential Survey published by the Developmental Disabilities Administration, make an entry level wage of $9.88 per hour, versus $13.32 per hour for state workers doing essentially the same work. This is a difference of 35 percent.
While we strongly favor community-support options that allow more people with disabilities to live in homes of their own, we do not support doing this by creating more overburdened and underpaid workers.
Lyle Romer, executive director of Total Living Concept, Kent
August 31, 2013 at 7:02 AM
Time for realistic solutions
Close the residential habilitation centers (RHCs) is not as simple as you think. [“Editorial: Reset inequity for state’s most vulnerable,” Opinion, Aug. 25.]
The community needs to be improved and expanded. However, this should not be done at the risk of individuals leaving the RHCs or those awaiting services.
Too often, the quest to rebalance the service system — to shift institutional funding to community-based supports — neglects person-centered supports.
Has the Department of Social and Health Services implemented changes to correct the background-check irregularities discovered in the latest audit?
Do the cost comparisons parallel individuals with similar disabilities or only the number of individuals with high needs? Similarly high needs will cost the same, regardless of setting.
Availability of medical professional services matters. How many are trained to work with the developmentally disabled? Are they willing to accept Medicaid payments?
We need realistic solutions, not oversimplified notions that only serve to limit the range of choices, including institutional care, creative family- and community-based projects that provide specialized services and residential options to people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
Terri Anderson, Woodinville
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