Options for families

I am recovering from surgery now, and have had quite a lot of time to read about some news that affects many families in my state.

Arkansas has 6 Human Development Centers throughout the state. These are places where children and adults with developmental/physical/mental disabilities are housed. A generation ago, when a child was born with such disabilities, he or she was immediately placed in one of these HDC's and lived there for life.

This month, one of these centers is closing. There are many reasons for the closure, but the most pressing one is the loss of Medicaid funding. According to the newspaper, the loss of funding was due to the conditions the residents lived with.

In addition, the state and the other 5 centers are being investigated by the U.S. government for the lack of alternatives for these clients, and the way in which most of them are cut off from the community.

I have visited three of these centers. Alan has been in one of them (during a much needed 3 week respite visit in the 1990's).

Two of the centers, which includes the one being closed, are housed in buildings that were used in the 1930's and 40's as tuberculosis sanitariums. These buildings are old, leaky, and sub-standard. Yet, this is the best the state can do for those people who are too difficult to manage in the community. Most of the residents of these facilities have a dual diagnosis, in that they are not only developmentally delayed, but also suffer from mental illness. Although Alan does struggle with mental illness issues, he is still able to be served in the community. But for how long?

Our state has few options for those citizens who need to be in the community the most. I see both sides of the problem. Families want their loved ones to have the best life possible. And on the other hand, when you have a person with limited mental capacity who can also be a threat to him/herself, others, or to the community, what can be done?

These are not problems that can be solved easily. I have seen some organizations that do wonders with folks like our Alan I am putting a link to one of them on my blog page, but you might want to search "village for developmental disabilities" for any other options.


  1. The mark of a great society is how well it takes care of its most vulnerable. Ours needs work.


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