Home > Uncategorized > Where’s the beef in Community First?

Where’s the beef in Community First?

We’ve long maintained that the Patrick administration’s agenda of phasing down and closing state developmental centers would ultimately fail to free up additional funding for the community based system.

It’s been nearly three years since the administration announced its plan to close the Fernald, Templeton, Monson, and Glavin Centers and reportedly plow back as much as $45 million a year in the “savings” into beefing up the largely privatized community-based system of care.  That $45 million savings projection was a cornerstone of the administration’s “Community First” initiative.

So far, the administration has succeeded in moving hundreds of residents out of developmental centers, starting with Fernald, which is now emptied of all but 14 of  its residents, who have filed appeals of their transfers.  But nothing remotely close to the $45 million in savings has materialized.  In fact, the opposite has been the case — the administration has continued to cut community-based line items in the Department of Developmental Services budget.

In a November 20 email to members and other advocates, the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers, which has wholeheartedly supported the closures of the developmental centers, stated the following :

For the last four fiscal years, in order to cope with the effects of the economic collapse of 2008, the Commonwealth’s budget has:

  • deeply cut Family Support programs, leaving 10,000 families without service,  
  • inadequately addressed Chapter 257 rate reform by not introducing sufficient funding to rate making but instead forcing existing programs to redistribute already inadequate funding
  • failed to address historically low salary needs of the community workforce (though the Legislature has recently added the first salary reserve dollars in four years)
  • continued to require community programs to implement state mandates without sufficient funding, including closing sheltered workshops without funding to replace this model in favor of a more inclusive and empowering model.
  • not backed it’s professed interest in Community First and Employment First with funding to make these efforts successful. (my emphasis)

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the success of the administration’s community-based care delivery model and its promised use of of the savings from the developmental center closures.  We hope the ADDP and the Arc of Massachusetts will reach the next logical step in their argument and urge the administration to cease and desist from closing the centers.

Unfortunately, the ADDP and the Arc of Massachusetts are supporting H.984, known as “The Real Lives Bill,” which appears to continue to rely on the premise that DDS clients should not be given the choice of living in developmental centers.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Sannicandro,  is intended to provide for more choice for persons with intellectual disabilities.   But it appears to specifically deny consumers the choice of “congregate services.”  In other words, everyone should have a choice, as long as they choose only small, community-based settings.  We believe, however, that the congregate services provided by developmental centers are appropriate for certain people who are unable to benefit from community based care.  And now we’re seeing that closing the congregate care centers is not freeing up community-based funding.

Sannicandro’s bill does appear to recognize that the community-based system has not thus far benefitted from the developmental center phase-downs.  The bill’s text reads:

Too many people are not receiving the assistance they need. The public Medicaid system is reeling from cost pressures. The time has come for individuals with disabilities, families, advocates and providers to work together with policy makers in the administration and legislature in crafting a support system that both increases quality and on average reduces costs whenever possible.

We agree with the language in Sannicandro’s bill on that last point.  We just disagree that closing the developmental centers is the right way to go about it.

  1. Anthony Shepherd
    October 26, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    From the very beginning, when funds that were going to be allocated to upgrade the ICF/MR’s that were to stay open never materialized, it has been obvious that the STATE’s focus has not been on betterment of their most vunerable citizens. (the ONLY ones without representation) and plans to “walk away” from their responsibility as soon as they can turn it over to private vendors.
    The supposed “hero” for the support organizations, Sen. Brewer, from the first has been the author of the closures and it appears it is about the property that is valuable. I would like to see an investigation into WHO is buying or investing in the development after closure of these beautiful homes to our Mentally retarded and highly cared for residents of Fernald, Templeton, Glavin and other ICF/MR.s
    Do not forget that your governor made his reputation, rising from the ghettos of south-side Chicago on others backs, that he was going to represent the poor, afflicted and the ones without a voice. What happened Governor Patrick? IS YOUR MOTHER PROUD OF HER SON?
    Anthony Shepherd,
    40 Rosemere Drive
    East Providence, R.I. 02914
    Guardian of 67 year old Templeton resident Robert Shepherd, His home fro 53 years


  2. October 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    It isn’t only Mass. where people with intellectual disabilities will be hurt.
    Please excuse me for getting into politics but persons with developmental disabilities who arn’t fortunate enough to be with such patient loving parents because of PA gov. Tom Corbett might lose their housing because of severe cuts in housing for such population. In other words the most vulnerable will effected. I find this utterly deplable. Hope you do too.


  3. Anonymous
    October 26, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    It is still hard for me to believe that there are actually people who support the eviction of mentally retarded people from their homes. But there are – lots of them. The Governor, the Speaker and the Senate President to name a few. And of course most of the members of the House and Senate – otherwise why is it happening? Is this what they imagined when they were first elected? Government viciously and a callously evicting and exploiting the most vulnerable people put on the earth? And then turning a blind eye to the absolute pilfering by private companies doing the same thing that state employees doe for $15.00 per hour? We need an “Occupy DDS” movement.


  4. sues
    October 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Anonymous: Just tell me where to show up for the “OCCUPY DDS” Rally!!!!

    I hate to put it in these term but the Community First Initiative was and is a scam.


  5. Bonnie Valade
    October 27, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    It blows my mind how closing these facilities can continue to move forward not knowing the facts, not proving the cost savings that DDS has proclaimed, not knowing the long term consequence to these people and jepordizing the lives of our most vulnerable. Shame on any legislator that does not step up and defend these people. They have ignored pleas from guardians and parents. The governor has turned a deaf ear and shows more compassion for our criminals and illegal immigrants. The closure and eviction is nothing less than outrageous and unacceptable and YES it is TIME to create a MOVEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.


  6. sues
    October 28, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    The first step of this experiment is clearly failing. The people most responsible for this farce becoming a reality (besides the Governor and his minion) ADDP and ARC, now find themselves in the same position as the individuals they so readily thru under the bus, (the facilitiy resident) –begging–for legislative support and money. Even more incredible is they continue to push for more evictions of the most fragile and vulnerable people into their system of care that in their own words is already overwhelmed, under-funded and unable to meet the needs of the people it currently serves. Snap out of it ADDP/ARC–the legislature thru you under the bus too!!

    Earth calling Rep Sannicandro? This issue has been on-going for years and years. Took all that time to come up with the notion that all involved need to work together to find solutions!!!! What a concept!!! I guess you must have missed all the times that there were proposals put forth that were and are reasonable, viable, cost-effective and humane alternatives to facilty closure. Of course those proposal were ignored. Even more incredible that this bill considers working together means taking choices away from the disabled and forcing more vulnerable people into this same overwhelmed and underfunded system of care.

    I guess the short answer here is our elected official JUST DON’T CARE.


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