Friday, April 7, 2017

Consolidate and invest in community supports

A bipartisan bill to close the intermediate care facility at Fircrest and transition residents to either a community setting or another residential habilitation center is waiting for a floor vote in the Senate.

  • You can read and comment on the bill here. (The link will take you to the bill page. Look for the “comment on this bill” button.)
Here is our testimony to the Senate Ways and Means Committee on the bill, SB 5594:


The Arc has always has fought for inclusion and stands by the belief that all people, regardless of disability, deserve the opportunity for a full life in their community where they can live, learn, work and play through all stages of life.

We support consolidation of the aging residential habilitation centers (RHCs) and expansion of stable services in the community, where people live.

Things about this bill that we like:

  • It has a good transition plan to help safely move people either to one of the other three RHCs, into a State Operated Living Alternative (SOLA), Supported Living or other community placement.
  • Family-to-family mentoring will be provided and employees at Fircrest will assist with residents’ transition plans. Fircrest employees will be offered the opportunities to work in the SOLAs, and the ability to reject clients will be limited in SOLAs.
  • There will be a process to determine which clients leaving Fircrest are at the highest risk for abuse and neglect, and they will be provided additional home visits. If residents are unhappy with the community placement, they will have the right to return to an RHC.

Things that aren’t addressed in the bill, but need to happen alongside of consolidation:

  • Investments in affordable housing. We are asking for a $200 million investment in the Housing Trust Fund, plus a set aside for people with developmental disabilities. Right now, the House is proposing both a set aside for DD and more money to the Housing Trust Fund. 
  • Investments in Supported Living. In this residential option, people with I/DD live in their own homes and direct support providers come to them. It is a popular option, selected by more than 3,700 people with I/DD. But low salaries are causing a staffing crisis and are limiting enrollment of new clients. The House operating budget proposal includes the requested salary increase.
  • Access to respite. Family caregivers need respite options close to home, and people with I/DD need crisis stabilization services close to home.

Getting back to the Senate bill, here are some specifics:

SB 5594 - In Rules

  • Sets closing date for Fircrest intermediate care facility (2022)
  • DSHS must study and make recommendation on a federally qualified health center that provides dental, medical, PT, OT crisis stability, and specialized nursing care for community based care
  • Proceeds from use of excess property go into DD community trust. That money can go to family support; employment/day services; supported living; SOLAs and other community-based residential services for people with I/DD
  • Requires person-centered discharge plans and sets up framework for transition out of Fircrest
  • Calls for regional or mobile specialty services
  • Discusses SOLA capacity-building, including “zero-reject” services
  • Maximizes funding through Roads to Community Living

Finally, here is a blog post that summarizes why we support community options:

AN EXCERPT: "The vast body of research on deinstitutionalization has established that moving from institutional settings and into smaller, community-based ones leads to better outcomes for people with I/DD (Kim, Larson, & Lakin, 1999; Larson & Lakin, 1989, 2012) … More powerful than any of the research are the stories from individuals who transitioned from institutions into the community. These stories breathe life into this research and The Arc’s mission."

Fifteen states have closed their institutions. In Washington, we have about 720 individuals in our four institutions: Fircrest, Rainier, Yakima and Lakeview. There are about 60 individuals in our institutions who want to leave.

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