Sacramento, CA – Senator Mike McGuire, Chair of the Senate Human Services Committee will convene an important hearing next week with Senator Holly Mitchell, Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee Chairwoman, on the significant budget crisis impacting California’s developmentally disabled community and the impact on residents and families, along with the impending closure of California’s Developmental Centers.
“This is a defining moment for our state as major changes are made to the system of care for California’s developmentally disabled residents,” Senator McGuire said. “We have to ensure that as Developmental Centers are slated for closure, we are taking a look at the lessons learned from past closures while establishing and maintaining a safety net so that the disability services system is fully funded and provides the necessary services for our state’s most vulnerable residents.”
Senator McGuire, who represents the region that includes the Sonoma Developmental Center, which is scheduled for closure in 2018, has spent the past year working with state and local officials, families, residents, staff and providers to ensure a safe and seamless transition for the nearly 400 medically fragile residents who call the SDC home.
The closure plan released last fall by the Department of Developmental Services for the Sonoma Developmental Center lacked important specific details about patient transition and placement services in the community. The purpose of next week’s joint hearing is to discuss the lessons learned from previous closures of Developmental Centers in California, to examine the proposal for the closure of California’s three remaining Developmental Centers and to receive an in-depth briefing from the Department of Developmental Services on the closure process. In addition, Senators McGuire and Mitchell will host a panel on addressing unmet needs and ensuring those with challenging medical and behavioral conditions receive the care they need to thrive in the Regional Center system.
Currently, California ranks last in the nation in funding per qualified individual with developmental disabilities. In fact, California spends less than half of the national average and also has among the nation’s highest caseload ratios, according to a report released by the Association of Regional Center Agencies. At the same time, between July 2011 and December 2014, 435 residential facilities closed, which amounts to 2,300 beds lost.
The Joint Hearing of the Senate Human Services Committee and the Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee will be held on Tuesday, February 23 at 1:30 p.m. at the State Capitol in Room 4203. The public is invited to attend. To watch via livestream, visit www.senate.ca.gov.
At the hearing, representatives from Regional and Developmental Centers, state agencies, patient advocates and families will testify about the challenges faced and lessons learned from previous Developmental Center closures as well as provide input on the state’s role in providing unique services and addressing unmet needs of people with challenging medical and behavioral needs.
“This will be an opportunity to hear first-hand about the process for moving residents from a Developmental Center setting to the community – we need to learn from previous challenges and keep our promise to provide those with developmental disabilities the services they need to thrive,” Senator McGuire said.