More Group Homes for the Disabled

Apr 17, 2013

When Department of Justice told Virginia that it must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act in caring for the intellectually and developmentally disabled, the state reached a compromise.

The plan was to close four of its institutions and provide thousands of waiver slots through Medicaid for community-based housing. Now, the major stakeholders have met to evaluate the plan’s progress.

Instead of going through a court battle, the state decided it could save millions of dollars in legal and other costs by agreeing to a settlement. That includes a mandate to re-locate institutionalized patients.  It was thought that one of the challenges to accommodating the thousands of transferring residents was finding an adequate number of qualified providers in each locality.

But Lee Price with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services says it actually wasn't much of a challenge after all.  He says statewide they've added 1,100 group homes and residential sponsored group homes—most of which accommodate five people or less. The state must add more than four thousand new slots over ten years, and about six-thousand people are on the community care waiting list.