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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Ocala woman shares thoughts on group home closures for Florida’s developmentally disabled residents

To the Editor:

Where did all the consumers go? The clients of Agency for Persons with Disabilities are being asked to leave their group homes. Where are they? The day programs, the backbone of services to the consumers, are closing just as rapidly. Where are they and what can be done?

Without a significant increase in waiver funding, there will be very few options. Imagine if this was your son or daughter, and they were asked to leave their home or day program. Where would they go? Many of the residents have elderly or no living parents. The state is the ‘guardian’. Will they be homeless or just people sitting in a home with limited resources, no one to care for them, and nothing to do all day?

It is no one’s fault that the pandemic has eroded what little financial resources were available. It is the responsibility of the state to meet the critical needs of this population. That means raise the daily rate for group homes and adult training programs. Without it there will be no resources.

Hiring is nonexistent because pay is minimal at best, around $10 per hour. A potential employee can get more at a fast-food spot. Who is going to take care of the developmentally disabled people? It is not an easy job.

The reality is that in July 2021, Agency for Persons with Disabilities acknowledged that there were 91 group homes closed. Now it is even more. Where did they go? The legislature and the governor need to meet this need immediately.

Patricia Lurie

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