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Some states chose to expand their efforts to return people to the community. For instance, the State of Washington's Group Home Bill authorized the Director of Institutions to place residents of institutions into group homes [maximum size of 20 people] and pay for their continued support.

Between 1966 and 1973, 1,000 residents of Washington's institutions returned to family, independent living, nursing homes, boarding homes, group homes and other sheltered living arrangements. In 1962, a State Hospital in California closed, though the overall population of state institutions continued to rise until 1968.

In 1967, one of New England's first community residences for adults opened under the auspices of a multi-service regional center.

The 1960s ended with a number of organizations reinforcing the dual focus on improving institutions and developing community options.

Women and Closet
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D

In 1968, the PCMR issued a series of policy statements on residential services aimed at eliminating dehumanizing conditions in state institutions.

The policy essentially focused on improving conditions in institutions. The policies also stated that "community placement can also be dehumanizing." The policies supported the following concepts:

  • Habilitation: Every residential facility, including those that care for people with the most severe disabilities, should be basically habilitative. None should be merely custodial.

  • Individual Program: Every resident should have an individually designed and recorded program, written down and planned by a multidisciplinary staff, and regularly reevaluated and redirected.

  • Public Education: Regular public education agencies should be responsible for the education of people in residential services.

  • Continuum of Care: Residential placement should be restricted only to those whose special needs can best be met by this type of service. Placement should be continually reevaluated. Communities should offer a variety of alternatives.
MR 68 The Edge of Change

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Moments in Disability History

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