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The 1970s: Continued Institutional Investments, Court Orders, Community Living for All, the Emergence of Family Support.

The 1970s began with statements and actions from a variety of sources that reinforced the views of the 1960s.

By the end of the decade, however, a new perspective had emerged. The decade began with statements about which groups of people belonged in institutions.

Court cases and policy debates confirmed the rights of people to treatment in the least restrictive environment. The debate centered on who qualified for what level of restriction.

The decade closed with growing agreement that no one needs an institution. Advocacy efforts focused on establishing and guaranteeing rights, and securing more and more resources for community living alternatives.

Child's hand on fence
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.
Child in institution
Photo courtesy
William Bronston, M.D.

Federal funding programs continued to encourage institutional developments and community alternatives. Support to families began to be recognized as an important element of community support.

In 1970, the President's Committee took the stance that publicly operated residential facilities should offer services to individuals who have the most significant disabilities and require highly specialized programs.

"Less severely retarded persons may profit by short-term residential services for the amelioration or modification of specific problems such as emotional instability, asocial behavior, physical disabilities, or for specialized educational and training programs." And further, that "a high percentage of the [residents] are capable of being integrated into community living situations, when supportive generic services are available."

In the spirit of the PCMR, the statement was a guideline for policymakers not a final policy statement on residential services.