The majority in the state Senate wants to close Fircrest School. But all RHCs are targets.
Tell your senator to stand up for Fircrest School and all residential habilitation centers (RHCs). If they close Fircrest School, they'll come after Rainier School, Lakeland Village, Yakima Valley School and SOLAs, too.
The Senate Republicans' budget (SB 5048) would start the closure of Fircrest School, along with another bill (SB 5594). Closing Fircrest or any RHC harms persons with disabilities, erases the continuum of care for residents and will lead to "transfer trauma" when residents are moved against their will - depression, regression, disorientation, injury and even death.
Saving Fircrest School and all RHCs is a life-or-death matter.
Instead, we need more support for RHCs. For instance, RHCs have untapped potential for respite care. RHCs and SOLAs offer a stable workforce. And supporting RHCs and honoring the wishes of their residents to stay is in line with the U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead decision. One good bill that supports RHCs is SB 5646. It stops the slow closure of Yakima Valley School enacted in 2011. It's a model to follow at all RHCs.
Stop closure of Fircrest School; OPPOSE SB 5048 & SB 5594. Fund RHCs; SUPPORT SB 5646
FACT #1 RHCs are a vital service in the continuum of care for people with intensive physical, medical and behavioral needs. State-operated Residential Habilitation Centers (RHCs) are campus-based, full-service, therapeutic communities especially for people with intellectual developmental disabilities.
FACT #2 RHCs offer a vital safety net for people in the community-at-large, in three ways. First, RHCs provide comprehensive stabilization services for people who go into crisis. Second, they offer temporary care for those whose community-at-large homes are shut down. Third, they provide expert respite care to relieve the burden on families caring for loved ones at home.
FACT #3 RHCs like Fircrest School and State-Operated Living Alternatives have a stable workforce. That's not true in community settings. Many studies indicate that the staff turnover rate in such private community settings is up to 70% -- that is not continuum of care and that does not lead to success for the people we care for.
FACT #4 There really are no adequate alternatives for Fircrest residents. RHCs provide a cost-effective option: continuum of care, costs same or lower than community settings.
FACT #5 Close internal oversight and strict annual audits ensure RHC residents receive the highest standard of care. There is no such assurance for protection or high standard of care for people with intellectual developmental disabilities who live in the community-at-large.
FACT #6 All four of Washington's RHCs are needed and must be kept open. Article 13 of the Washington State Constitution requires the state to "foster and support" RHCs.
FACT #7 The Supreme Court Olmstead decision affirms that people have the right to choose an RHC if that is the best residential option to meet their needs.
FACT #8 People requesting admission to RHCs in Washington state are routinely denied. They are told by DSHS to seek placement in community-at-large settings, even when there is room in the RHCs and no appropriate care available in the community-at-large. Allowing more admissions to RHCs would bring economies-of-scale and further reduce the per person cost.
FACT #9 RHCs have untapped potential for respite care. For instance, an increase in autism has led to many young adults with significant behavioral challenges; expanding RHCsâ?? respite potential will give parents caring for children with autism a needed rest.
FACT #10 Moving residents out of RHCs has resulted in depression, regression, disorientation, injury and death. This is called "transfer trauma." It is now happening nationwide. According to Wisconsin Relocation Ombudsman Specialist Tom LaDuke, transfer trauma is a term that is used to describe physical, mental, and emotional changes that occur in residents of institutional settings who are moved from one place to another. During the last attempt to close Fircrest, parent Jeanelle Baldwin talked about the tragic death of her daughter Sherry Baldwin, who was forced out of Fircrest School after a too-short emergency stay: "Sherry would die a week later after being evicted by the same (private) community setting because she was too difficult to care for....The closing of Fircrest will divide and conquer. It will scatter its clients like my daughter's ashes, to the wind."
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Washington Federation of State Employees
1212 Jefferson Street SE #300
Olympia, WA 98501