Posted at: 07/26/2013 8:57 PM
New York officials plan to close four state institutions that provide care for the disabled during the next four years in the ongoing shift to group homes and community settings.
The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, responsible for about 126,000 New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, said Friday the O.D. Heck Developmental Center in suburban Schenectady is slated to shut by March 31, 2015.
That will be followed by the Brooklyn Developmental Center by Dec. 31, 2015; Broome Developmental Center in Binghamton by March 31, 2016; and the Fineson Developmental Center in Queens a year later.
"No one should live in an institution," said Cathy Loquercio, board president of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State. "As people with developmental and other disabilities, we believe that we should live in our community, in our own home or a small home or apartment with the people we chose to live with, among our friends and neighbors, and with the supports we need to be contributing citizens."
The agency said it has closed 14 of its 20 institutions during the past 25 years. That's reduced the number of residents from nearly 27,000 to fewer than 1,000. It also works through a network of about 700 nonprofits now providing about 80 percent of services.
According to Cuomo administration officials, there are no layoffs associated with the plan and that workers will be offered reassignments and retraining. Community alternatives are less expensive than the larger state institutions, expected to reduce the cost of care by half.
Current staffing includes 720 in Brooklyn, 562 in Queens, 692 in Binghamton and 313 in Schenectady.
State officials said the closures are consistent with the federal mandate under the Supreme Court's 1999 ruling that individuals with developmental disabilities have the right under the Americans with Disabilities Act to live in a less restrictive community setting where appropriate.