Washington State maintains five institutions for developmentally disabled adults, despite this being a mode that has been rejected by a dozen other states, and is probably in violation of U.S. Supreme Court's 1999 ruling L.C. v. Olmstead, the DSHS of Georgia, which says that individuals cannot be locked in an institution because of their disabilities when they can be cared for in a more integrated community setting. Professional best practices teach that people flourish when they have more choice, including choice of staff and roommates and more individualized care plans.
There are fewer than 1,000 residents in the five institutions, several patronizingly called "schools," although they don't hold classes and they house only adults. There are many more thousands (perhaps 10,000) developmentally disabled adults living with their often aging parents who are in the waiting list for services, which disproportionately flow to the residents of institutions. Because of staffing, facility and labor costs, the institutions cost per resident is many times what it would cost to support one person in a group home with 24/7 staff. This is the goal of this bill, to move people out of expensive institutions and into small group homes, usually three roommates, that are supported by less expensive staff with less overhead. The group homes are usually acquired by a nonprofit with low-income housing funds and are maintained by private fundraising, typically.
If a dozen states serve their developmentally adults in more integrated community settings, there should be no argument that this is impossible or that it will results in "deaths." The groups homes are fully regulated and their training allows them to care for behaviorally complex residents. If the residents are sufficiently medically complicated to require 24/7 nursing care, they would qualify for a nursing home under Medicaid, again a less expensive solution. It's time to follow professional "best practices" and to let go of these institutions, not only for the sake of the budget, which should be used to serve more developmentally disabled adults, for the the futures of these residents and their lives as full members of our communities.