As parents of a daughter who has lived at SWVTC for 16 years, we understand the confusion and anger expressed by other families who attended the Feb. 9th meeting with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. This settlement decision between The Governor and The Department of Justice will close four of the five Training Centers, including SWVTC!
The settlement agreement between the DBHDS and The Department of Justice was based on The Supreme Court’s decision in the Olmstead Case to encourage “community integration.” DOJ findings were that residents in Training Centers are “isolated and rarely allowed to interact with people who are not disabled.” This statement is false! Ask the hundreds of community volunteers who spend time with residents. Also, Amber eats out in restaurants, goes swimming twice a month, goes shopping, and attends community events.
According to a DBHD spokesman, the State will establish “5-6 bed intermediate care group homes, which are similar to the services now provided at the Training Centers.” There are approximately 1,000 severely disabled individuals in these facilities. Let’s do the math: 1,000 divided by 5 is 200 new group homes. Taxpayers would bear the increased costs to duplicate what is already available.
Equipment is another issue that is not being addressed. Our daughter shares specialized bathtub, transfer lift, computer, walker, and dozens of adaptive physical management devices. What about specialized transportation issues? Therapy? Doctor? Dentist? Not only should residents’ families ask these questions, but so should the public!
The Governor made his decision without resident/family/guardian involvement, or a campus investigation. While the General Assembly is still in session, it is urgent that we voice our opposition to the closing! Please contact delegates, especially Gov. McDonnell, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Urge them to reconsider this flawed plan! Join with us in writing letters, sending email, and making phone calls. Together, we can make a difference for these special individuals at SWVTC who cannot speak for themselves.
Wade & Wanda Robinson, Woodlawn