Thursday, April 6, 2017

Consolidating institutions and expanding community supports go hand in hand

Testimony to Senate Ways and Means Committee

March 15, 2017


Good afternoon Chair Braun and committee members.

At The Arc of King County, we serve people with developmental disabilities - including 45 in our Supported Living program - and we protect and promote civil rights.

We support consolidating state residential rehabilitation centers (RHCs) and the closure of Fircrest in King County.

Where and how people with developmental disabilities live is much different today than when Fircrest opened, as are expectations for what people with developmental disabilities can achieve in . their lifetimes - even for people with very significant intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We see two aspects to the closure process:
  1. Closing and consolidating institutions 
  2. Ensuring a strong, stable community infrastructure
We support putting any proceeds from sale or lease of RHC property into the developmental disabilities trust to benefit family and employment supports and residential options.

On community infrastructure, we ask that you consider access to affordable housing and stable supports for people with developmental disabilities.
  • Please invest in the Housing Trust Fund, and please return the set-aside for people with developmental disabilities so that individuals with developmental disabilities can find stable homes in the community.
  • Please address the residential provider rates. Supported Living is an excellent option for people, but stable staffing is essential. Current low rates have caused high turnover in the field.
  • Please make sure there is a “zero reject” option in the community, such as a state operated living alternative, or SOLA.
Finally, we encourage the state to partner with King County to ensure a continuum of services and strong safety net that includes accessible transportation, affordable housing, access to health care, and inclusive recreation, education and employment opportunities.

Thank you.