Wait List Grows For Community Supports
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 4, 2002
CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE--Eleven years ago, the last residents were moved out of Laconia State School and into the community, making New Hampshire the first state to end institutionalization for people with mental retardation and physical disabilities.
The positive outcomes are measurable and tremendous.
But the state has never been able to fully pay for community services, even for the people who need them the most.
The waiting list of individuals considered "Priority 1" -- meaning that if they don't receive services within the year, they face "an imminent risk of substantial physical or emotional harm or substantial regression" -- has grown from 157 people in 1994 to the current total of 345.
The facts that medical advances have raised life expectancies for many people with disabilities, and that more families have become aware of available services have actually made the problem worse, financially speaking.
Officials say the state needs $2.65 million a year just to keep the waiting list at the current levels, an amount that few believe state lawmakers will approve.