Speaking out for People with
 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Maryland: Parent testimony (2006)

Testimony for Public Forum
Before: Administration on Developmental Disabilities
By: Mary Lou Chandler, Parent, Salisbury, MD
Re: Maryland Disability Law Center (Maryland's Protection and Advocacy System)
Date: July 10, 2006

To Whom It May Concern,

I am a parent and legal guardian of a thirty-eight year old resident of Holly Center, ICF/MR in Salisbury, MD.

I strongly disagree with the agenda of the MDLC and the MD DD Coalition – close State Residential Centers.  I find it outrageous that these agencies receive Federal dollars to promote an agenda that is not supported by MANY taxpaying citizens.  These agencies do not represent my daughter and her rights to continue to receive care in the most appropriate setting – Holly Center.

Please review the MDLC testimony (attached) as presented at the DDA Budget Hearing (Feb 16, 2006).  Their statements use the terms “almost” and generally” repeatedly.  “Almost” any service can be provided, “almost” everyone in SRC has successful counterpart in community who is “generally” better off.  “Almost” and “generally” is not the kind of service I want for my child and many other families in MD would agree with me.

The advantages my daughter has by living at Holly Center are many.  She is safe!  She is well cared for, she has many familiar people with her daily, she has structure, stability, friends, immediate medical care, trained staff, transportation, social activities on and off campus, she lives close to her parents, she is content where she is.

From a parent’s point of view, safe is the most important.  I have heard too many stories of staffing failures in community homes – poorly trained unsupervised staff, frequent turnover, no monitoring of diet, exercise, health and dental issues.  I know that won’t happen at Holly Center, the staff is professional and work hard to provide the best care available.  That gives me peace of mind.

I also interpret Olmstead differently.  I know Olmstead does not mandate uprooting my daughter from her long-time happy home just to see how it might work out in the community.  Especially, since the state of Maryland refuses to allow her to return if it is not successful.  There are hundreds of Maryland families looking for help for a disabled family member.  And I know some (even many) of these families would be grateful to have their loved one reside in a SRC for now, somewhere safe – until the community providers can catch up.  And this service could be provided readily with little or no additional expense to the state.

Also, as our entire society ages, so does our DD population and a larger residential facility with medical staffing becomes increasingly necessary and cost-effective.  We see a growing number of 55+ and assisted living communities-serving a growing need.  The SRC’s should be allowed to continue to operate to meet the increasing needs of the aged, medically-fragile DD population.

I do support all levels of community based care, but I happen to believe the SRC is a vital part of the overall delivery of care that the state should provide for this most vulnerable population.  I want the peace of mind that comes from knowing that my daughter will continue to receive the high level of care that she now receives long after I am unable to advocate for her.

Please scrutinize the MDLC’s and MD DD Council’s overall mission; their purpose is very rigid; they do not represent the best interests of ALL the developmentally disabled in Maryland.

Respectfully Submitted,
Mary Lou Chandler