Governor Joins People First Members In Wanting Facility
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 28, 2003
CHIPPEWA FALLS, WISCONSIN-Since it was created four years ago, People First, an advocacy organization made up of people with developmental disabilities, has been pushing Wisconsin to close its three state-run institutions.
The group is welcoming plans by Governor Jim Doyle to downsize Northern Wisconsin Center for the Developmentally Disabled, and move its 150 residents back to their home counties by June of 2004. Under Doyle's budget proposal, the facility would end long-term care, but would retain 20 short-term "intensive treatment beds", the Stevens Point Journal reported Friday.
The plan is opposed by state workers, the families of the people housed in the facility, and the local community that sees the downsizing as a huge loss for the local economy. The institution employs 375 people in this primarily rural area.
Advocates for community-based supports are watching the situation carefully, expressing concern that if the move is not done correctly -- without funds to adequately support the facility's residents in their home communities -- it could jeopardize their long-term goal of closing the state's other two institutions.