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"CVTC Mission Impossible?" Inclusion Daily Express Weblog

Virginia Plan: Replace Massive Institution With Massive Complex Of Huge "Homes"
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 11, 2006

LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA--While many states have taken a path in recent decades to closing institutions in favor of community living, the Commonwealth of Virginia appears to be on track for replacing its largest institution with a massive complex of "homelike" buildings on 50 acres at the same sprawling campus.

A Central Virginia Training Center Reconstruction Task Force -- which includes parents of residents, architects, CVTC staff, representatives of area Community Services Boards, the Department of Mental Health Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, and local politicians -- has been meeting to decide the future for the 500 or so people with intellectual disabilities who are housed at the 96-year-old facility.

The News & Advance reported last Friday that the task force met with an architectural firm, which proposed a complex of 15 one-story buildings and a three-story central administration building. A cluster of five one-story buildings each would be located on two sides of the 170,000 square foot central building. The final group of five buildings would be located "behind and slightly separate from the main area, and each other" for people with "behavioral problems".

Each one-story building would be about 20,000 square feet, and would contain four "homes" of 4,000 square feet each, plus another 4,000 square feet of staff support areas for "things the residents don't use". Each residence would have at least four rooms to house a total of 16 to 20 people.

Last year, Governor Mark R. Warner proposed a record breaking $170 million in new funds for community services for people with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses, along with another $290 million to fully replace two aging psychiatric hospitals and two institutions, including CVTC.

With about 1,400 employees, CVTC is Amherst County's largest employer. Earlier this year, however, Virginia's Office for Protection and Advocacy criticized the state for failing to provide enough staff at CVTC, causing its residents to experience high rates of injuries, along with chemical and mechanical restraints.

CVTC, which began as the State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded in 1910, housed nearly 3,700 people in 1972. It is estimated that about one-half of the 8,300 Virginians that were sexually sterilized during the height of the eugenics movement, between 1927 and 1972, were residents of CVTC.

"Task force keeps homelike theme on the table for CVTC" (The News & Advance)
"Design of new CVTC ongoing" (The News & Advance)
"CVTC Mission Impossible?" Inclusion Daily Express Weblog

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