The undersigned organizations and individuals support the recommendations made by Disability Rights Arkansas (DRA) in its recent investigative report on conditions at the Booneville Human Development Center (BHDC). This report — A New Approach to Care in Arkansas: Why the Time Has Come to Close the Booneville Human Development Center — recommends a phased closure of the facility in order to provide a positive environment for the residents at BHDC and move them into more community based settings.
Conditions at the facility are dangerous and inappropriate for residents. Renovations have proven to be impractical because of high costs, and several buildings have simply been boarded up and left to fall apart. The state should not pour more money into this crumbling facility. To do so is to cling to an outdated model of care that serves only a tiny fraction of Arkansans, all of whom could live successfully in the community.
Arkansans have made clear they want services in their homes and neighborhoods, not in institutions. Every year the number of Arkansans who want institutional care is decreasing. By contrast, over 2,800 individuals are on a waiting list for community based services, and the list continues to grow.
BHDC is not just outdated; it is a drain on the Arkansas economy. As outlined in the report, it costs the state twice as much to provide services in institutions as in the community. Further, it is fiscally irresponsible for the legislature to consider spending $20 million or even $7.7 million dollars, on an institution with declining enrollment and disproportionately high maintenance costs.
We stand ready to work with the legislature to find modern and cost effective measures to ensure Arkansans with disabilities are receiving appropriate services in the least restrictive setting. These settings will enable individuals with disabilities to live and thrive in the community, with more access to family, activities and opportunities for work.
For more information please contact Disability Rights Arkansas at 1.800.482.1174.
Arkansas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents
Arkansas Disability Policy Consortium
Arkansas Support Network
Arkansas Waiver Association
Spa Area Independent Living Services
Disability Resource and Advocacy Center
Independent Living Resource Center d.b.a. Mainstream
John Lee, Self-Advocate
Veronica and Alexander Tess Myers
Julie Petty, Self-Advocate
Patti Rogers, ASCC Executive Director
Michael Thornton, Self-Advocate
Kim Weser, Self-Advocate
Linda S. White