But that doesn’t mean they’re willing to sit in silence as that date, agreed upon in a settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Commonwealth of Virginia, nears.
On Thursday, hundreds of family members filled the gym at the Training Center to hear a presentation from Virginia Department of Behavioral Health Commissioner Dr. Jim Stewart and to give feedback.
Comments ranged from anger directed at the Department of Justice, the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health, Governor Bob McDonnell and others, to asking for clarification as to what families can expect as their loved ones are moved from the Training Center.
Stewart recapped the history of the investigation, which began in 2008 when the Department of Justice looked into the Central Virginia Training Center in Lynchburg. That investigation was later expanded to all five training centers in the Commonwealth. After a nearly three-year investigation, the Department of Justice sent a letter to Virginia, which prompted McDonnell to instruct Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel to form a team and begin negotiations.
"The track record for states across the country when they've chosen not to enter negotiations has not been positive," Stewart said. "If the state had ended up in a lawsuit, it does not turn out as well for the states. We chose to enter into negotiations so we could have some say-so."
Stewart said populations in training centers have been on the decline, from 5,600 residents at its highest point to around 1,000 today. He said the SWVTC has gone from 220 residents to around 170.
"We have made projections about what the census of training centers will be in the coming years. It's the projection that the numbers in training centers will be just under 600 by 2015," Stewart said.
When the floor was opened for comments, the first individual, who did not identify herself, chided Stewart and the collected officials, saying this whole plan was conceived without the input of any affected individuals.
"How would you like somebody coming into your home to tell you your child has to leave home? It's not right," she said.
Doug Laforce, whose brother is a resident, said he felt the state had dropped the ball.
"I'm disappointed in the state of Virginia, in particular, our governor, because I feel he's let down people who can't help themselves," Laforce said. "These people, like my brother, can't do anything."
Cynthia Elliott, whose 55-year old sister has lived here since she was 23, called the Training Center a godsend and said families need places like this because their loved ones have such special needs.
"We love our loved ones who are here. This facility is the only place where she can be maintained," Elliott said.
Elliott said had the Department of Justice spent more time here, perhaps a different decision might have been reached.
"We went to Lynchburg. Lynchburg was a terrible place. The children were wandering around the halls; they wanted to go home with my mother. One had a shoe on, one didn't," Elliott said. "Lynchburg's not the place to start looking. They need to start looking here, the cottages and the friends they've got."
A man who identified himself only as Jerry said the care the residents at the Training Center receive is second to none.
"There is no way anybody can tell me you can take my daughter and put her in a group home or community home and she can get the same care or anything," he said. "You've got the best people I've ever met in my life taking care of my daughter."
An individual questioned the plans, saying so far, all the families have received are generic answers.
"What supports? What programs? I think what most of us are frustrated about is you're not giving us specifics," she said. "We're not getting information. All we're getting is a report in our newspaper and a bunch of politicians saying we're going to make it better. You're not making it better. Making it better would be, come to my house and do something with him so I can sleep for two hours."
Under the plan, 4,200 additional Medicaid waivers will be made created with 800 reserved for training center residents. These waivers will help facilitate group homes in the community, the hiring of qualified individuals to take care of individuals, and to put necessary failsafes in place, such as mobile crisis teams to offer quick assistance.
One family member said she's seen it all before with her son and Medicaid waivers don't always mean the individual is getting the best possible care.
"My son has had a waiver slot before; it does not work. The state of Virginia has already failed him. That's why he's here," said Crystal Dalton.
The question was raised concerning the Southeastern Virginia Training Center in Chesapeake staying open with fewer beds. Stewart said that training center had been renovated recently and would be dropping from 140 beds to 75. A comment was made that this training center had been renovated as well.
As the date approaches, Stewart said family members would be greatly involved in the relocation process.
"The plans that are made will be based on the unique needs of your loved ones," he said. "The planning meeting will be established for every individual. The authorized representatives -- parents, families -- will serve on these and determine exactly what's needed. We want to be certain the homes created will meet the needs of your loved ones, including the other activities."
Department of Behavioral Health Deputy Commissioner Olivia Garland said she could relate with the feelings many family members are experiencing.
"My heart is full here. It's full because I was the mother of a severely disabled daughter," she said. "I know what you're feeling. I know the fear, I know the anger. And it's important to me that whatever we do, we do it with you. Maybe you haven't been at the table before, but you will now be at the table starting today. That's why we're here. We will be meeting with you on a regular basis to talk about what needs to happen with your individual child. All these people are concerned and want to make sure we do the right thing."