Daughter's Move To Community Is A Success Story
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 17, 2003
WETUMPKA, ALABAMA--Wednesday's Birmingham News ran two stories on the state's efforts to close institutions. One is a story of a woman whose mother says has a better life now that she has moved out of an Alabama institution, and the other is an article outlining the views of advocates on both sides of the issue.
Betsy Walker had been "dead set" on keeping her 28-year-old daughter, Karen, at J.S Tarwater Developmental Center.
"It took a lot of convincing. I was afraid," Betsy said.
"Karen smiles more now, and I believe she is happier."
Two thousand families in Alabama are on a waiting list for community-based services for family members with mental retardation.
At the same time, the state is paying millions of dollars to house 368 people in costly, state-run institutions.
For that reason, and because of state and federal lawsuits over the years, Mental Health Commissioner Kathy Sawyer is proposing that the state close three of its four institutions housing people with mental retardation and move them into the remaining facility or into the community.
According to the University of Colorado's annual State of the State in Developmental Disabilities, Alabama ranked 47th of the 50 states in overall spending for people with developmental disabilities during the 2002 fiscal year, and 46th in spending on community-based services.
State of the State in Developmental Disabilities (University of Colorado)