May 21 Presentation at 10 a.m. will coincide with release of Senate budget
MANSFIELD, Mass. — Advocates for residents of The Fernald Center and other state-operated facilities for the severely retarded will meet with key state senators and the media at the State House on May 21, 2003 from 10 – 11 a.m. to present the first systematic review in the United States of scholarly literature that examines the cost of community-based care for the mentally retarded to institutional care.
During the meeting, members from the Coalition of Families and Advocates for the Retarded (COFAR) will also urge passage of budget language protecting Fernald and the other remaining state facilities for the mentally retarded from the Romney administration’s plans to shut them down. The meeting will coincide with the senate’s release of its version of the state budget.
The literature review, which has been published in the April 2003 issue of Mental Retardation, one of the nation’s most respected scholarly journals on developmental disabilities, debunks the widely held view that shifting mentally retarded residents from the state facilities to the community results in budgetary savings. A key finding of the literature review is that it is difficult to make cost comparisons between institutional and community-based services because the services themselves tend to be very different. Individuals living in institutions tend to be older and to have more problems in daily living skills.
COFAR believes the implications of this literature review are vitally important and directly applicable to the ongoing situation in Massachusetts. In COFAR’s view, the literature review prompts the question: "If savings in the community are not possible, why are the state facilities being closed?"
COFAR members will urge the lawmakers to support state budget language requiring that a comprehensive and meaningful cost analysis be done and be approved by the Legislature before the administration can shut the doors at Fernald and the other remaining state facilities for the mentally retarded.
After the 10 a.m. Senate Reading Room event, COFAR volunteers will adjourn to the Nurses’ Hall at 11:00 a.m. for a brief meeting and will be available for questions, and then will visit individual Senate offices to present all senators and their aides with information about the literature review and to urge passage of the facility-protection language in the budget.
COFAR conducted a similar volunteer lobbying day at the State House last month, which resulted in the inclusion of facility-protection language in the House budget bill. That same day, COFAR presented the Governor’s office with petitions containing more than 10,000 signatures of citizens around the state who oppose the closures of the facilities.