2/13/17 It?s a work in progress. But a bill affecting the future of Fircrest School in Shoreline raised a host of concerns from Federation advocates and state Sen. Maralyn Chase whose district is home to the 85-acre campus caring for some of this state?s most profoundly developmentally disabled citizens.
A proposed substitute for Senate Bill 5594 has some commendable but perhaps costly provisions, including remodeled buildings and more state-operated living alternative (SOLA) homes staffed by state employees if residents choose to move into the community.
The bill came up for a public hearing Monday (Feb. 13) in the Senate Heath Care Committee. It?s sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser of the 33rd Dist.
Rainier School Local 491 retiree Diane Rauschenberg, an activist with the Retired Public Employees Council of Washington/AFSCME, pleaded with the committee to safeguard the continuum of care.
"I think this bill is premature," said another advocate, Saskia Davis, whose sister lives at Fircrest.
One red-flag provision in the bill would prohibit Fircrest residents who failed to succeed in the community from ever coming back to Fircrest. They could go to another residential habilitation center (RHC) but not to the place they may have called home for years or decades.
"These are people that we?re talking about, people who should be considered as people, not somebody who we can move around the state at will," said Local 1326 member Julianne Moore, who drove all the way from Yakima Valley School in Selah to stand up for Fircrest?s residents and staff. "This has been going on for years."
Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich said the bill has many good intentions, but "it's not quite baked yet and we'd like to continue working on it to address continuing concerns.
The committee also took up SB 5646 to repeal the downsizing of Yakima Valley School enacted in 2011 and boost crisis stabilization and respite service at the Selah facility. Moore said the respite care potential must be maximized. The respite care provides some parents caring for their children at home the only time to recharge. SB 5646 is sponsored by Sen. Jim Honeyford of the 15th Dist.