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Time for a New Direction in Implementing the Settlement Agreement with Regard to Training Center Residents

We, the parents, family members, guardians and other authorized representatives (ARs) of residents of Virginias Training Centers, are deeply concerned with the lack of understanding of the complex needs of the residents, the lack of necessary supports in the community for those residents, the underestimation of the true costs of transitioning them into the unprepared community system, and the failure of the McDonnell administration to respect the choices of ARs. We, therefore, propose that Virginia take the following steps to devise a new, more humane and cost-effective plan for Training Center residents that is consistent with the Settlement Agreement: Suspend the present arbitrary schedule for Training Center closures The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) says the Medicaid waiver program for community services is inadequate to meet the complex needs of the remaining Training Center residents and a new waiver will not be in place until 2016, after the scheduled dates to close two Centers. Many providers and Community Service Boards make the same point while also saying that there are insufficient appropriate and acceptable community placements. Stop the DBHDS Coercion of ARs to Move Residents into an Unprepared Community The Settlement Agreement provides that no resident of a Training Center shall be discharged from a Training Center to a(nother) setting . . . if his or her Authorized Representative chooses to continue receiving services in a Training Center. Instead of respecting AR rights, the DBHDS has threatened to move residents whose ARs refuse community placements to a distant Center, and has repeatedly pressured ARs to look at placements that are clearly inappropriate. Recognize that the High Level of Special Needs of Training Center Residents Will Require Community Supports Comparable to Those Provided at the Training Centers DBHDS policy has long made Training Centers the option of last resort when community supports were inadequate, and now they serve almost exclusively people with profound or severe intellectual disabilities and/or intensive behavioral or medical conditions. The residents need round the clock care for their health, safety and survival. End the Underestimation of Costs of Community Care That Distorts the Planning Process The DBHDS has refused to release the data to support their contention that community care costs only about half the amount of Training Center care. By law, Training Center costs are based on need while community waiver costs are artificially capped by law. At the same time, the DBHDS admits that the waiver program that pays for community care is not rich enough to provide proper care for Training Center residents. Equal or better care, promised by the DBHDS, is likely to be as costly as Center care. Stop the DBHDS Subversion of the ARs Rights to Choose Training Center Placements The DBHDS plan calls for those who wish to remain in Training Centers to be served in one 75-bed facility, despite its own data finding that 400 of the 741 ARs continue to choose Training Center care and another 187 are undecided. Develop a Collaborative Plan for Integrated Supports Under the circumstances, Virginia should rethink its plan. An integrated approach with both rightsized Centers and quality, safe community residences in place before anyone is asked to consider leaving a Center would best meet the Settlement Agreements requirements of choice and quality in a cost-efficient manner.
Leaders of Virginias Training Center Family Organizations: NVTC: Judith Korf, (571) 201-8428, r3n39ad3@gmail.com; Jane Anthony, (703) 860-8652, janthonyjane@comcast.net CVTC: Jane Powell, (804) 262-1548, pashabean@verizon.net SWVTC: Wanda Robinson, (276) 236-2122, theredhead@embarqmail.com SVTC: Lorraine Koury, (703) 352-9432, lmkoury@verizon.net; Colleen Lynch, (757) 508-4558, Colleenlynch96@gmail.com