YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Local state lawmakers told a group of employees from the Youngstown Developmental Center they will do what they can to save the facility from closing, but it will be a long shot.
An informational meeting was held Friday morning at Oak Hill Renaissance Place to discuss the potential impact if the Mineral Ridge center, which serves 80 to 90 people with developmental disabilities from all around eastern Ohio, closes as planned.
Earlier this month, state officials announced YDC and another facility like it in Dayton are to be closed by the end of June 2017. Local experts said the changes are part of a much larger, nationwide effort tied to federal funding and an effort to mainstream residents into their local communities.
“The movement has been there for several years to move away from the traditional models and get more towards a community setting where individuals have choice, and freedom of choice of a provider, that is not just a governmental entity that would be their provider,” Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities Superintendent Bill Whitacre said.
“Not every home-based and community-based setting is appropriate for every level of care. And it is just simply the truth that the people who know best are the professionals and the families that are caring for these individuals,” State Sen. Capri Cafaro, D-Hubbard, said.
Lawmakers said they are pushing new legislation to create public-private commissions to oversee closings of facilities like YDC and possibly keep the local center open. But they also said that even with good support in the General Assembly, there are no guarantees if a bill is passed that Ohio Gov. John Kasich will sign it.
“We can fight it. We can make our points. We can make our voices heard. But at the end of the day, if you have family members there or you work in the facility, we gotta talk about what is most likely going to happen. And most likely it is not going to be a good outcome,” State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, said.
As parents of a young adult son with disabilities, Bob and Jody Kale of Berlin Center worry that closing facilities like the Youngstown Developmental Center will cause more harm than good.
“It is people making decisions that really don’t understand what they are making a decision about because they don’t have a handicapped child in their home or maybe a relative,” Bob Kale said.
“These new laws coming into place are giving choices to what I feel is a minority, and not a majority, of the amount of people that this is going to impact,” Jody Kale said.