DRW has released “Shut Them Down:”* It’s time to close Washington’s Dangerous Residential Habilitation Centers, a report that calls out the continued failures of Washington’s Residential Habilitation Centers (RHCs) to fix major problems that have put people with developmental disabilities at risk for verbal, physical, and sexual abuse and neglect.

Washington’s RHCs have shown over and over again that they are not capable of keeping people with developmental disabilities safe or providing the treatment and services they promise. When major problems are discovered by regulators, RHCs do not act swiftly or make lasting changes that prevent future harm, even when failing to remedy legal violations causes death, injury, and illness for people with development disabilities who rely on the State for their care.

RHCs need to be closed so that current and future generations of people with developmental disabilities are not forced to live in institutional settings to access the supports they need. Washington State must stop its practice of providing services in these outdated, dangerous, and segregated institutions and invest in community-based care for all clients.

The current legislative session provides several opportunities to promote deinstitutionalization and dramatically improve Washington’s service system for people with developmental disabilities. This year the legislature can advocate for the down-sizing and closure of the current RHCs, prevent the construction of a new segregated nursing facility, and promote the development of integrated, community-based services that can meet the individualized needs of all people with developmental disabilities.

People with developmental and intellectual disabilities, both in and out of RHCs, are experts on their own lives and have made clear calls to close the RHCs.  Washington State should listen to this expert advice. Disability Rights Washington recommends State policy makers listen to these calls to close RHCs and to build a system that truly meets the needs of Washingtonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Read the full report here.

*Title credit: Mike Raymond, President of People First of Washington and former resident of Rainier School. Cover image credit: KOMO 4 News report, February 3, 2020. Cover image description: Screenshot of a news report showing a rural logging road, with a banner at the bottom reading, “Search suspended for developmentally disabled man – Buckley, Pierce County.”