By Gina Macris
Friends of the Disabled, organized by Newport County families who have members with intellectual or developmental disabilities, will host a forum on the future of Rhode Island’s disability service system Wednesday, Oct. 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Newport campus of the Community College of RI.
Candidates for the General Assembly have been invited to attend and address several questions about adult services that are provided by the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH), according to Chris Semonelli of Middletown, co-director of the group.
Most of the issues of concern to the parents are related to a history of declining funding. The General Assembly, under pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. District Court, and Governor Gina Raimondo, added about $11 million to developmental disabilities for the current fiscal year to comply with a federal consent decree requiring community-based employment and day services.
Wednesday's program will cover current and future options for both daytime and residential services.
The consent decree does not apply to residential services, although parents have expressed concern about the future availability of group home placements, which have been hard to come by in recent years.
Since January, BHDDH has been emphasizing shared living arrangements, in which adults with developmental disabilities live in private homes. BHDDH should provide better supports to families providing shared living, according to Jane Gallivan, who until Sept. 30 served as Interim Director of Developmental Disabilities.