A new law signed today by Gov. Inslee will create groundbreaking new options for people with developmental disabilities, including community care close to home, nursing home care, and state centers of excellence.
“This is a major turning point in the long debate about our state’s RHCs, rehabilitation centers for people with developmental disabilities,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), the sponsor of Senate Bill 6419. “For the first time in 40 years, these vital services will be dramatically more appropriate and comprehensive.”
The new law directs the state Developmental Disability Administration to implement recommendations of the William D. Ruckelshaus stakeholder report for transitions for residential habilitation center clients and establishes a joint executive-legislative task force to oversee implementation of the recommendations.
“This is a result of 18 months of meetings with stakeholders to resolve three decades of conflict,” Keiser said. “This preserves vital federal funding that was in jeopardy and improves services for everyone with developmental disabilities in communities across our state.”
Keiser said the process was bipartisan with both Rep. June Robinson (D-Everett) and Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia) as key players in negotiations that led to a historic level of consensus between diverse interests and advocates.
The joint legislative and executive task force must meet with and provide updates to the stakeholders, including the Developmental Disabilities Council, the Arc of Washington, Disability Rights Washington, family members or guardians of current residential habilitation center residents, individuals with developmental disabilities, developmental disability self-advocacy organizations, the Washington Federation of State Employees, and Service Employees International Union 1199.
“People with development disabilities and their families deserve not just services but a choice,” Keiser said. “We will be transitioning services from large centralized institutions to communities these folks can call home.”