DOJ: Virginia Institutions have ‘Systemic Failures’

Virginia held its final public hearing on institutions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities this week. The state’s large training centers, including Lynchburg’s Central Virginia Training Center, have been the focus of the Department of Justice for what it calls the “needless and prolonged” institutionalization of state residents. CVTC and other large institutions have gained attention from disability advocates because they segregate residents from the community and lack, in many instances, a viable pathway back to community inclusion. Furthermore, the institutions cost the state several thousands of dollars more per year than services in the community.

In a February letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell, the DOJ said the state has failed to provide adequate services in line with the ADA, resulting in needless and prolonged institutionalization of the state’s citizens with disability. In his letter to McDonnell, assistant attorney general Tomas Perez noted the following “systemic failures:”

The Commonwealth’s failure to develop a sufficient quantity of community-based alternatives for individuals currently in Central Virginia Training Center and other training centers, particularly for individuals with complex needs.

The Commonwealth’s failure to use resources already available to expand community-based services and its misalignment of resources that prioritizes investment in institutions rather than in community-based services.

A flawed discharge planning process at CVTC and other training centers that fails to meaningfully identify individuals’ needs and the services necessary to meet them and address barriers to discharge.

If Virginia does not find an adequate resolution, the DOJ may file a lawsuit against the state. You can read the complete DOJ letter, as well as a summary from TASH right here. More on this comes from Maria Longley’s article in the News Leader yesterday.