January 26, 2011

Bill mandates closure of Frances Haddon Morgan Center and Yakima Valley School

A bill introduced today mandates closure of the Frances Haddon Morgan Center by June 30, 2011, and closure of Yakima Valley School by Dec. 31, 2012.

That’s in Section 6 of Senate Bill 5459.

Like earlier legislation, SB 5459 removes the statutory authority for Frances Haddon Morgan Center, Yakima Valley School and other residential habilitation centers.

Senate Bill 5459 also says that no admission to an RHC can be considered a permanent placement. And any RHC could only provide services to developmentally disabled citizens if the Legislature approved funds and if they met admissions criteria set down by DSHS. It also has transition language.

What isn’t clear is if the sponsors intend to mitigate the damage of the closures advocated by the governor by promoting transition of residents into the successful state-run community program called SOLA. The bill includes language restricting the ability of SOLAs (State-Operated Living Alternatives) to reject clients. SOLAs were created 20 years ago to preserve the continuum of care for residents moving from state institutions into the smaller state-run community settings.

And the bill’s intent section declares that those in institutions are happy with their services but deserve to receive equal services when they move to the community.

So we have to talk to the sponsors to see if the words on the page mean something else. But there is no doubt: SB 5459 would close Frances Haddon Morgan Center and Yakima Valley School and remove their explicit legal existence under law, along with the statutory authorization for Lakeland Village, Rainier School and Fircrest School.

SB 5459 is sponsored by Sen. Adam Kline of the 37th District, Sen. Karen Keiser of the 33rd District and Sen. Debbie Regala of the 27th District. The bill has been referred to the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee.

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