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Plans to Close Montana Developmental Center Generate Concern

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016   

BOULDER, Mont. - Today a committee appointed by the governor is meeting to discuss the transfer of 52 severely developmentally disabled people from the 100-year-old Montana Developmental Center in Boulder, also known as MDC, to private facilities around the state.

All the clients are at MDC because they're considered a danger to themselves or others and require specialized care.

One member of the transition committee, Carol Dailey, has a 34-year-old son, Shawn, at MDC and does not want to see it closed.

"My son has had the best years of his adult life there," says Dailey. "I don't feel the staff, programs and treatment can be duplicated in the community and finally I don't think the environment can be duplicated."

The legislature last year ordered MDC to close.

Dailey maintains lawmakers were sold misleading statistics about alleged abuse, and she notes AWARE, the private facility in Butte that won the state contract to take on 21 clients, does not provide day or work programs or access to nature trails that are the hallmark of the secure MDC campus.

Erik Burke, executive director at MEA-MFT, the union that represents 14 of the 240 MDC employees, also serves on the transition committee.

He stresses the timetable to move clients into private placement is just too short.

"We expect that to occur in two years without any new money, which the legislature failed to provide," he says. "So it is an unrealistic goal."

Burke points out the legislature, which reconvenes in 20-17, is going to have to appropriate additional funds, and he hopes lawmakers will follow the transition committee's recommendation to keep at least part of MDC open to serve the most challenging, developmentally disabled clients in Montana.


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