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Families fight to keep handicapped loved ones out of private group homes

April 5, 2006
By: Travis Thompson
State Capital Bureau

Missourians with mentally disabled family members went straight to Jefferson City to keep lawmakers from cutting their loved ones' lifelines.

Travis Thompson has more from the state Capitol.

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The families urged the state to reveal records from private group homes.

So far the state's refused.

The family members say the homes harbor neglect and abuse.

Family members say they're scared because if lawmakers continue with cutbacks to state habiliation centers like Bellefontaine in St. Louis, their loved ones will end up in private group homes.

Mary Vitale's brother lives in Bellefontaine.

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Contents: "He has no voice but mine. His voice is saying Bellefontaine Habilitation Center has been my home for 43 years. I do not want to move."

Still, lawmakers in support of habilitation center cuts say the group homes provide adequate care.

From the state Capitol, I'm Travis Thompson.

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Missourians with family members in state habilitation centers say they're ready to fight state lawmakers to keep their loved ones out of private group homes.

Travis Thompson has more from the state Capitol.

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Tears streamed down Natalie Woods' face as she called for lawmakers to tighten standards for private group homes.

Woods' mentally handicapped sister lives in a state habilitation center now, but used to live in a group home.

Woods says the the group home neglected her sister.

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Contents: "It's a very scary thought of having to go back to that type of situation and I would fear for my sister's life."

Woods and others worry more cuts to state habilitation centers will force their loved ones into private group homes.

Lawmakers in support of habilitation center cuts say the group homes have nothing to hide.

From the state Capitol, I'm Travis Thompson.