The federal government awarded funds to the Department of Aging and Disability Services in December 2011 for 26 community living/transition positions to help individuals move out of state supported living centers (SSLCs) and obtain supports needed to live in the community. This includes 24 community living specialists, a coordinator, and an administrative assistant under a Money Follows the Person (MFP) Demonstration project. These specialists will expand on the abilities of current SSLC staff in transitioning more individuals into the community, which is required under a 2009 Settlement Agreement between Texas and the U.S. Department of Justice.
“These positions would provide the facilities with additional outside resources that can be utilized to stress independence and choice for the resident and improve the community relocation process at each of the facilities,” DADS staff explained. The transition specialists will work with SSLC staff, residents, family members and legally authorized representatives (LARs) regarding community relocation in the planning stages, as well as identifying supports and services needed for transition and working with local authorities and community-based service providers to obtain them.
Although there are no benchmarks in place to measure the MFP project’s effectiveness, advocates are hopeful that the funds will increase the number of individuals moving from state institutions into the community and result in an increased capacity overall in the services and supports available in community programs. Disability advocates stressed the importance of including meaningful stakeholder input in finalizing details regarding how the MFP funded positions are put into operation.
Texas has gradually decreased the number of individuals in SSLCs over the years. As of December 2011, 3,930 individuals were residing in the 13 SSLCs, 152 fewer residents than in September 2010. The state has also decreased the number of children under age 17 in SSLCs, down to 118 from 350 in 2008. Texas has 12 state supported living centers plus the Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities component of the Rio Grande State Center.