For the last several years, there has been an ongoing debate about state care for permanently disabled Missourians for whom independent living is difficult if not impossible. The debate has involved proposals to phase out some of these facilities. It's causing an emotional response from parents for whose children these habilitation centers have become home. In a five-part series, Missouri Digital News reporter Tong Gao takes an indepth look at the dispute.
|Description: "She's been there since they built the facility. She's comfortable there. She has her own room. Staff members see after her night and day around clock."|
Maggie Webb says Kimberly's life depends on the service from the center.
|Description: "It's impossible for us to keep her at home. She's 50 years old. She suffered ... when she was 3. The she came out and started to have seizures, which was quite frequent. They did a lot of damage to her brain."|
|Description: "He's made it here through all these years because he has the protection, safety of a facility like a hab center. If he were out in a community, I don't think he would be alive today. I know he wouldn't."|
|Description: "They want their family members to stay at habilitation center, and they can't because of the no new long-term admissions."|
Missouri Department of Mental Health Director Keith Schafer says it's true that the admission is restricted.
|Description: "We have an admission policy that says that you don't go immediately into an habilitation center as your permanent living option unless you have tried the community setting first."|
Schafer says a transition from institutions to communities is a trend all over the country.
|Description: "That's by the way is both the state and federal policy, very clear that they believe people should living in a community whenever possible."|
However, parents such as Norma Lingle say they feel sympathetic to those who are not able to get the access any more.
|Description: "There should be admissions. I know there are persons out there. They refuse, I understand, make a waiting list otherwise there will be one. And there are people out there who really need the services and are being denied."|
Reporting from the state Capitol, I'm Tong Gao.
Missouri Digital News is produced by Missouri Digital News, Inc. -- a non profit organization of current and former journalists.