Ohio Council 8 members joined advocates and family members to attend a rally organized by OCSEA/AFSCME Local 11 to raise public awareness of the state’s plan to close two state developmental centers, the first step in a move to phase out the centers as well as sheltered workshops and other countybased services provided by Council 8 members.
AFSCME Local 3794 President Sandy Coutcher, representing more than 425 professional, technical, and support staff at the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities said “losing local residential and workshop programs like ours will leave families with fewer choices not more.”
“The choices open to families are not only quality of life issues, it can be a life and death decision,” said Keith Lander, AFSCME Local 101 Chapter Chairman representing employees of Dayton’s Stillwater Center. Stillwater Center is a home operated by Montgomery County serving children and adults having the most severe and profound intellectual disabilities, are physically challenged and/or have significant medical needs.
According to Lander, many families have tried community-based environments, “and when their needs were not met, they chose our center and they’re pleased with the care their loved ones receive. It doesn’t make sense to take that choice away.”
OCSEA/AFSCME Local 11 led the fight by organizing a coalition of families, community allies and members which was successful in lobbying and exerting enough public pressure which led to the creation of a “closure commission” amendment to the budget bill. The commission will make the final determination regarding any DC closures.
“They did a heck of a job getting the budget subcommittee members’ attention,” said Ohio Council 8 Political and Legislative Director Robert Davis. “Closing the state center in Youngstown directly affects the Council 8 members as well because they provide transportation services to the center’s clients. While the news is hopeful, there is still a long way to go before declaring victory,” Davis said.
The attention now moves to the state Senate where action will focus on keeping the closure commission in the Senate version of the budget bill. After the Senate, the bill is debated by a conference committee of Representatives and Senators before making its way to the Governor’s desk.
Click here for details on the Closure Commission: