Parents of disabled adults fighting center's closing

5:37 PM, Jul 25, 2013   |    comments
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FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) -- Some five thousand people have signed a petition to stop the closing of the Northern Virginia Training Center and other state centers that serve the developmentally disabled. 

At the Training Center in Fairfax, several aging parents say the state is bullying them to move their children out with no good options.  

Ken Gans is one of them. His  53-year-old son Jeffrey has been a resident at the Northern Virginia Training Center for 40 years.

Jeffrey can't speak. He developed no language skills after being born with several severe disabilities. Jeffrey has the mentality of a six month old baby. The training center's staff bathes him, feeds him and changes his diapers.

Jeffrey's family is fearful of where he will end up is the facility closes as planned in 2015.  

Under an agreement with the Department of Justice, the state will close four of its five training centers. The only one left open will be either in Chesapeake or Lynchburg.  Most residents are supposed to transition into group homes.  

To place all 80 some Fairfax residents would take 25 new group homes, that don't exist now. There are hundreds of people in Northern Virginia and thousands across the state on waiting lists for group homes. 

Ken Gans says he won't put Jeffrey in a group home. 

"If there's one person on duty, these people can't speak.  If he's abused in any kind of bad way, who's going to talk about it?  How would you know?  You won't," said Gans. 

Fairfax County Supervisor John Cook says the county will keep a close watch on what happens. 

"We need to make sure that the group homes here in Northern Virginia, specifically in Fairfax, are high quality, so that parents have a good choice, and what we don't want to see is a choice between substandard group home care and an institution out of the county. That would not be acceptable," said Cook. 

Gans said, "The fact that his civil rights and his parents are being violated."

While Ken Gans, of McLean, will make the trip to visit his son, other elderly parents may not be able to. 

The families hope they can convince Virginia lawmakers to keep the centers open to allow families more time to find adequate care for their loved ones. 

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