Legislator Says Goals To Move People From Institutions Are
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 2, 2006
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA--In the latest battle between advocates of community living and supporters of institutional housing, a California legislator has accused an agency that serves people with developmental disabilities of setting "secret" goals to move residents out of state-run institutions, "forcing" some to move into communities whether or not they are ready or willing.
Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, a Democrat from Santa Rosa, also accused Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of covering up the "completely inappropriate and very likely illegal" scheme.
State and regional officials say Evans simply does not understand how the planning and contracting system works.
At issue is the contract between the Department of Developmental Services and the North Bay Regional Center. NBRC is a nonprofit that oversees services in and around Napa, including the Sonoma Developmental Center, which houses more than 700 people with developmental disabilities.
Evans has been citing the minutes of a February NBRC board of directors meeting, in which executive director Nancy Gardner reportedly said that SDC had to "intensify efforts to meet community placement plan goals" or risk losing funding. Evans has also been pointing to the existing contract, which requires the center to move at least eight people out of SDC by the first of January.
Evans called the number a "quota" and a "bounty on the heads of the developmentally disabled", which she claimed is illegal because services are supposed to be individualized. She has called for a legislative inquiry into the practice.
State and regional center officials have explained to Evans and the media that the number is not a quota, but a budgetary goal that needs to be in place in order to adequately plan for supports in the community. Family members and advocates are involved in the process for each person, which does not "coerce" any individual to leave the institutions against his or her will. If the goal is not met, the money simply goes back to the state general fund, officials said.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that unnecessarily institutionalizing people with disabilities violates their rights under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. In fact, the state's Protection and Advocacy Inc. is suing California for not moving people into the community quickly enough.
Opened in 1891 as the "California Home for the Care and Training of the Feeble Minded", Sonoma Developmental Center is California's oldest state-run institution housing people with developmental disabilities. It has been under scrutiny in recent years because of a number of unexplained deaths and injuries, along with allegations of cover-ups by facility administrators and staff.
"Disabled care facilities accused of illegal quotas" (Oakland Tribune)
"Evans Exposes Administration Cover Up" (California Chronicle)
"Sonoma Developmental Center -- Investigations or Cover-ups?" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)