Today, I have a huge favor to ask anyone and everyone willing to respond.
I would like to introduce you to a member of my family.
This is my brother, John. He was born in November of 1961. You see, my brother, John, has a form of autism. During the 1960s – 1970s not much was known about autism. Due to John’s erratic behaviors and side effects from the trial and error of many different types of medicines, Mom an Dad could not care for my brother at home. He needed to be cared for professionally. This was a very difficult decision for my parents and after much thought, prayer and consultation, in 1974, John was placed in GDC (Gallipolis Developmental Center). This was close to where we lived and my parents and I could visit him often and keep a close eye on his care.
According to an annual report from the state of Ohio GDC was one of the largest facilities of its kind and served 2358 residents. Now, the census is down to around 99. After more residents are relocated to group homes, the census will soon be down to 59. (according to a phone call from one of GDCs administrators). This is a huge drop!
So, why do you think there was this huge drop in census? Well, that is our fear. Yes, Developmental Centers do cost our state money. Yes, our state is always trying to cut the budget. Yes, my mother and I have received phone calls from GDC administrators wanting to suggest that we allow John to be placed in a privately owned group home. (John was placed in a group home at one other time and it was not the most appropriate setting for him).
Yes, we fear of an upcoming closure of GDC!
There are several reasons why we have this fear.
- The huge yet gradual drop in census.
- A huge drop in the workers. In October of 2013, 80 positions were cut from GDC.
- There is already a slated closure within the next two years for two other Developmental Centers (Montgomery and Youngstown). See article.
- The need for this legislation, S.B. 64 which states that no more developmental centers can be closed without members of the General Assembly reviewing and creating a Commission.
- Lack of communication from GDCs new administration to guardians. Administration used to keep in contact with parents and guardians of any new legislation or orders from the court or any changes. The only contact we have had lately is about these new group homes.
As John’s adult guardians, my mother and I received notices recently in the mail that the Supreme Court of Ohio recently passed a law that we now need to attend classes every year in order to keep our guardianship. If we don’t take the classes, we may lose our guardianship! That would mean John would become a ward of the state and we wouldn’t have any say in his placement. Is this to make it difficult on current guardians to keep their family members in developmental centers? I don’t know. I just know that so far we have had a lot of difficulty just getting registered for the only class that is located in our area and is coming up in the next two weeks! Not much notice!
I ask you this:
Please. If you live in one of these counties in Ohio (Fayette, Pickaway, Ross, Pike, Vinton, Jackson, Athens, Meigs or Gallia) that are serviced by GDC contact your state senator or representative. Also, contact our governor. Let them know the importance of keeping our state’s developmental centers open. Group homes do not work for all residents. There needs to be the option of a Developmental Center.
If you live in any other county in Ohio, this affects you as well. All Developmental Centers in Ohio stand the chance of closure if Ohio citizens don’t stand and act!
If you do not live in Ohio, do you know the status of developmental centers in your state? Are people, like my brother, who are developmentally handicapped being offered options as to the most appropriate environment for their care?
We need to take a stand for those who cannot stand up for themselves! GDC is home to John and the other residents there.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:40 NIV