Following the announcement last week that DODD intends to close two Developmental Centers by June 2017, Department leadership visited both the Youngstown and Montgomery Developmental Centers this past weekend to speak with individuals, families, and staff at each center.
As stated in testimony last week (see story above), Director Martin noted during the on-site visits that every year DODD helps individuals move from state institutions to community settings. By the fall, he said, slightly more than 800 individuals will be living in the same 10 centers that previously housed 1,600 residents. The Department has decided it is time to consolidate by closing the two centers, as it is no longer sustainable to operate 10 centers. He observed, “We need to develop cost-effective, quality models of care that can be replicated across the state.”
Director Martin explained that, unlike other states, DODD is giving families the option to continue care in one of the remaining eight state-run facilities. Individuals also have the option of moving to a privately-operated Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) in the community, or choosing a state-funded waiver for community-based services. If someone chooses one of these options and does not do well in the new setting, the person has the option to return to a Developmental Center. In addition, Director Martin noted that DODD sees a long-term role for state-operated centers as a residential option for people with developmental disabilities in Ohio.
Visiting the Youngstown and Montgomery Developmental Centers along with Director Martin were DODD Division of Residential Resources Deputy Director Ginnie Whisman, and Assistant Deputy Director Brent Baer, as well as Deputy Director Zach Haughawout. Each spoke with staff, individuals, and families, expressing their understanding of the concerns involved with any change like this. Director Martin noted,
We will work one-on-one with individuals, families, and staff to help identify a place that ensures peoples’ health and safety. It is important to note also, that by downsizing from ten to eight Developmental Centers, the Department can open up funds to serve many more people who are on a waiting list for services.”