California Faces Hurdles as More State Mental Institutions Close
As California nears the end of its deinstitutionalization process for residents with developmental disabilities, it faces challenges finding new homes and communities for residents with the greatest need for care, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Since 1969, the state has closed five of its 12 mental institutions and is expected to close another one this year. The closure policy will affect 2,761 mentally retarded, severely autistic or brain damaged Californians who need highly trained caretakers.
At Lanterman Developmental Center in Pomona, for example, each resident facing discharge has a hearing in a mental health court in Los Angeles before being released from the facility. Such trials have drawn criticism from some advocates who argue that the cases often overstate incidents to expedite Lanterman residents' release from the facility.
Although Lanterman and other facilities have been widely accepted as an improvement for the majority of developmentally disabled people, California facilities at times have been cited for shortcomings in care.
Nonetheless, families are increasingly hesitant about transferring residents out of the facilities, voicing concerns about finding adequate care in other settings, the Times reports (Therolf, Los Angeles Times, 3/6).