The population is on its way down at the Jacksonville Developmental Center. It was 196 in September of last year. Now it’s 163, with the pace of decline expected to pick up to meet a projected closing date of Oct. 31. Karen Ward, vice president of public policy for the disability rights group Equip for Equality, is looking for a smooth transition from institutional care at Jacksonville to smaller settings known as community care.
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“We’re very much engaged and have been part of work group with the governor and the various agencies involved to ensure that the transitions go well, and that the level of care that is needed is provided once they (the residents) get to the community,” she said. The Murray Developmental Center in Centralia also will close, but after Jacksonville is closed. A spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services says nothing has gotten in the way of the administration’s closure plans. Ward is pleased that these facilities, Jacksonville and Murray, are being closed as a matter of policy –deinstitutionalizing the developmentally disabled – rather than strictly for budgetary reasons. She says her organization is mindful that there are Jacksonville and Murray employees who will be displaced, but she says that is not a reason to keep open facilities that have outlived their usefulness.