California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley last week announced she is reconvening the task force for developmental centers.
That task force took on a formidable job — over the course of six months, it came up with a $13 million plan to restructure the state’s developmental centers — and in May presented its “Plan for the Future of Developmental Centers in California” to legislators in time for the state’s budget revision.
The task force’s top priority for future consideration was to establish a robust community system to help deliver comprehensive care to the thousands underserved by the current system.
The future is now — Dooley has scheduled the first task force meeting on July 24 to take on the second phase of developmental center restructuring.
“This diverse group of stakeholders did a remarkable job coming together, setting aside differences and producing a set of recommendations to chart a course for the future of developmental centers,” Dooley said in a written statement. “I believe this same group can build on that success by examining services in the community.”
The task force will look at how rates are paid, how state and federal laws affect regulations and the staffing levels of regional centers.
“This will be far more complex and time-consuming than the previous task force work,” said John Doyle, chief deputy director of the Department of Developmental Services. “We’re looking at plans that affect many more people and require much more funding.”
Today, California serves approximately 275,000 individuals with developmental disabilities in the community system with an annual budget of $4.7 billion. As developmental centers have been shut down around California, the state wants to develop community systems and regional treatment centers to take on those patients.
Just four developmental centers are now in operation, and Lanterman Developmental Center in Pomona is slated to close by the end of the year. The state’s 21 regional centers must now be re-assessed to explore how they might provide adequate care, along with community support networks.
Doyle said establishing acute crisis centers in Sonoma and Fairview Developmental Center in Orange County will give the task force a better understanding of how to restructure developmental centers.
“Transition can be very difficult, and individuals come to for treatment at regional centers and they are going to get them,” Doyle said. “But we want to make sure that community support system is healthy.”
This task force will be doubly challenged to implement changes to the large, long-term residential facilities, as well as develop the best community framework to support those transitioning care, or in need of ongoing treatment.
“We’re moving on two tracks now,” said Doyle.