Washington ‘risking a lawsuit’ by segregating people with disabilities

Posted by Pam Blanton on March 15, 2016

From King 5 News, Susannah Frame – Part 5

The large number of developmentally disabled adults living in state-run institutions puts Washington at risk of being sued by the federal government.

Only a handful of states operate more institutions for people with developmental disabilities than Washington. And in Washington, more people live in these segregated settings than most of the rest of the country.

Civil rights experts warn that this situation puts Washington in the cross hairs of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, which since 2009 has made it a top priority to achieve desegregation of people with developmental disabilities.

Since the 1970s when the deinstitutionalization trend started, 16 states have closed all of their institutions that once housed the developmentally disabled, including Oregon, Alaska, and Hawaii. And 21 states, including Idaho, have fewer than 100 residents total living in these types of public facilities.

But in Washington, approximately 825 people with developmental disabilities — people living with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other disorders — reside in one of the state’s four large facilities: Fircrest in Shoreline, the Rainier School in Buckley, the Yakima Valley School in Selah, and Lakeland Village in Medical Lake.  Read More