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May 27, 2016
Pat McConahay, Communications Director
Disability Rights California
(Sacramento, CA – May 27, 2016) Disability Rights California (DRC) today urged the state to step up efforts to develop community services for residents of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC). This follows a decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to terminate federal funding for 7 of the SDC’s 11 intermediate care facilities. Beginning July 1, it will cost the state an additional $26 million to provide 24-hour care and rehabilitation to adults with developmental disabilities.
In 2013, four of the units voluntarily agreed not to accept federal funding after state and federal surveys found a number of serious deficiencies. The remaining seven units entered into an agreement in 2015 to improve care. But a CMS survey this spring pointed to health and safety violations and lack of treatment.
DRC has long supported closing the state developmental centers and transitioning residents to the community with appropriate living arrangements and supports. The organization has represented a number of clients who have successfully made those transitions. Edward Sharp spent 40 years at Sonoma before moving into a Bay Area apartment in the fall of 2014. He’s enjoying his new life, visiting stores and having his own bedroom.
DRC is concerned about the slow pace at which individuals like Eddie are being moved into the community. In testimony before a Senate Budget subcommittee May 18, DRC noted that since the state will now be investing significant general funds at Sonoma we need to do more to create appropriate high quality living arrangements. The organization called for a $50 million one-time general fund investment to develop an array of housing options.