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Disability Advocates Call for Closure of State-Run Residential Centers

Apr 12, 2013

Porterville Developmental Center is one of several California state-operated facilities that serve people with developmental disabilities

The steps to the State Capitol were crowded with people Thursday who wanted lawmakers to hear one message: Close down state-run residential centers for the disabled. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.   

People with disabilities shared stories about abuse at the state’s developmental centers. Their advocates said ‘institutionalization’ is outdated. Jaquie Dillard–Foss from the organization “StrategiesTo Empower People” has helped people make the transition from developmental centers back into communities.

“They have significant support needs, and they are successful and doing well. Behaviors they used to be labeled with are gone, medical supports are less. It’s successful,” says Dillard-Foss.

Lawmakers heard testimony today about the state’s funding of the remaining four centers. Democratic Senator Mark DeSaulnier said the centers are plagued with problems.  

“We need to sell them, and put them back into the communities and transfer the clients who are still there into the community where they can be served better and can be safer and closer to their loved ones. And are cheaper for the taxpayer,” says DeSaulnier.

Senate analysis says the state has been reducing the number of people who are placed in the centers for decades. Currently there are about 1,300 people who remain in them.