Virginia’s settlement with the Department of Justice regarding the state support for individuals with disabilities will mean local residents should have access to more services.
However, there are still some unanswered questions for the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, which provides the services locally — namely, how they will pay for the additional staff needed to administer the expanded programs.
“The implications for the CSB really boil down to staff and fiscal resources,” said Alan Wooten, CSB director of community living.
Under the settlement reached last year, Virginia agreed to provide funding for an additional 2,900 people with intellectual disabilities, 450 people with developmental disabilities and 805 people who are currently living in the state’s residential training centers, to help them transition to community-based settings.
In Virginia, these funding slots are referred to as “waivers.”
The agreement also included more funding for family support and housing assistance, the creation of a program to assist individuals or families in crisis, and updates to case management and oversight of the locally administered programs.
It is the final item, called “enhanced targeted case management,” that might have the biggest impact on the Fairfax-Falls Church CSB, according to Wooten.
Starting in March, the CSB will be required to use enhanced case management for more than 60 percent of its clients with intellectual disability waivers. This requires more face-to-face visits and filing documentation with the state, Wooten said.
The new state guidelines regarding case management “raises the bar without necessarily resourcing it,” said George Braunstein, executive director of the CSB.
While the state is compelled to spend more on services due to the agreement, it is unclear how much the CSB will receive for its increased administrative costs.
The CSB will also likely need additional staffing to absorb new clients as the agency is awarded more waivers, and help people transition from the training centers into community-based settings.
The local CSB was assigned 39 new intellectual disability waivers in fiscal 2013 and is anticipating another 48 next fiscal year. The agency has 90 days to assign and activate new waivers.
By 2020, the CSB is anticipating more than 230 new waivers. It currently administers about 660 intellectual disability waivers.
There are 113 people residing in training centers around the state who are considered Fairfax County residents, and the CSB also will be leading the discharge process for those individuals.
The training center discharge process is complicated by the fact that there currently are not sufficient existing housing options and providers to offer the additional supports needed to care for training center residents in the community, Wooten said.
In addition, the families of many training center residents oppose closing the training centers.
“I think [state officials] are gradually beginning to realize how difficult it will be,” Braunstein said. “The reason that it costs so much to stay at the training center is because of the level of care.”
Under the current waiver rates the state is funding, he said, it will be difficult to replicate some services in community-based settings.
However, Wooten said, there are also plenty of examples of successful transitions from the training center to community-based settings, and most people with disabilities are currently living outside of institutions.
State officials will continue to develop new programs and guidelines over the course of this year.