On January 27, Governor McDonnell announced Virginia had reached a settlement agreement with the United States Department of Justice that will result in the closure of the Northern Virginia Training Center by June 2015. The Training Center is home to approximately 200 significantly intellectually and developmentally disabled residents, who require care for many life functions, including eating, bathing, and sometimes even basic physical movements.
The settlement implements the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision, which declared that institutionalization of the intellectually and developmentally disabled violated those residents’ civil rights by keeping them permanently segregated from non-disabled neighbors.
The closure of the Training Center presents a challenge both to the state, which runs the Center, and to the residents and their families. The settlement agreement requires current residents be placed in community based group homes, and though significant federal and state money, through Medicaid waiver slots, will pay for this care, this funding will be implemented over a ten year period, while the Center will close in three.
I have already begun discussions with Chairman Bulova and George Braunstein, the Chair of the Community Services Board, which serves the intellectually and developmentally disabled community, on ways to serve this population. I am absolutely committed to ensuring all Training Center residents receive proper care upon their discharge from the Center.
The closure presents exciting opportunities as well. I am leading a group
of public and private sector officials who are beginning to discuss potential uses for the 88-acre, state-owned, Training Center site once it closes. I oppose the sale of this site to private developers. Instead, we are discussing innovative public-private partnerships which could use this site to provide services to the disabled, including vocational education, medical services, physical therapy and counseling. The site could also house additional community based services, as it already has a gym, food service facilities, meeting rooms and office space.
In the coming months, we will begin to focus our planning efforts and then come to the community with concrete options. Negotiations with the state will be critical, as it owns the site, and I am already in contact with members of our General Assembly delegation on this matter – Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn and Vivian Watts have been especially helpful. Community input, and significant cooperation between the State and County and the public and private sectors, will be essential to make these ideas come to fruition. I look forward to discussing these options with you in more detail over the coming months.
John Cook, Braddock District Supervisor
Reprinted from The Braddock Beacon - February 2012.
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