State audit “blueprint” to attack developmental disabilities institutions

Moore (left) and Zuvich.

Moore (left) and Zuvich.

At the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee hearing (8/14/13), the Federation agreed with parts of  one of two studies conducted by the State Auditor’s Office to improve developmental disabilities services for all who need them.

But the union rejected the underlying assumption that residential habilitation centers are the problem, are “segregated” and that they, perhaps, should be closed.

“I see this latest study…being another blueprint to continue the attacks on the residential habilitation centers,” said Julianne Moore, who works at Yakima Valley School in Selah and is a member of Local 1326.

“And the idea that people who live in RHCs are segregated…is absolutely not true. People who live in the RHCs are part of their communities.”

The four RHCs – Yakima Valley School in Selah, Rainier School in Buckley, Lakeland Village in Medical Lake and Fircrest School in Shoreline – care for some of the state’s most profoundly disabled citizens. Spread sheets based on apples-oranges comparison often make RHCs look too expensive. But based on acuity levels, levels of care and a federal reimbursement of 54 percent of the cost, they actually are cost-effective.

Attacking RHCs is the wrong solution. Moore said all parties need to take a holistic approach.

“The whole system needs to be looked at…,” she said. “We who work in the RHCs have advocated that…they become ‘Centers of Excellence’ to help people in the community stay in the community. We have extensive training, knowledge and compassion for the families that get no services.

“We want to help those people but we keep running into a brick wall.”

Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich said RHC members stand ready to join a common-sense solution.

“We agree…we don’t spend enough resources as a state on this vulnerable community…,” Zuvich said.

“The DD community does need more resources. We believe that’s the elephant in the living room.”



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