The Los Angeles Times has an interesting piece this week about how California has transitioned from having 13,000 mentally disabled clients in its state institutions in 1969 to 500 today. Texas still has 5,000 residents in such institutions.

As the Texas Legislature examines an interim charge on state schools, which have recently been cited for abuses, there is an opportunity to provide better outcomes for residents and save taxpayers’ money by moving some residents into community-based placements.

The cost of state institutional facilities for the mentally disabled is enormous. At Lanterman, the one California institution still in existence, 498 residents remain, sharing 320 acres, 1,382 paid staff members, 86 buildings and a $111.8-million budget.

There may well be some of the most extremely mentally disabled and indigent individuals for whom there is no alternative but state institutions, but for those who are less impaired and have supportive family members, they could achieve better outcomes in community-based placements, including group homes and in-home nurses. That’s the position of Advocacy, Inc., a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of the disabled in Texas.

For more info, see:

Advocacy, Inc. Houston Chronicle commentary

L.A. Times Piece,1,4161262.story?track=rss

The Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee has an interim charge specific to state schools, which could be discussed at a hearing later this year.