SSLC targeted for closures – report recommends closing six facilities

BUTTONS_NoClosures_colorAs of late May 2014, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, a committee composed of state lawmakers whose purpose is to evaluate the functions state agencies; released a report that recommends the closure of Austin State Supported Living Center along with establishing a “SSLC Closure Commission” to identify 5 additional SSLC’s to be closed by 2022. The report also suggests that the money saved from closing SSLC’s be given to privately-owned community-based group homes to care for the individuals displaced by the closures. The Sunset Report says that the state can save money through closures and the individuals will receive better care in private group homes.

. . . While the Sunset Report calls for closures, the report also states that the Department of Aging and Disabilities Services (DADS) has a poor track record in oversight, accountability, and violation enforcement of private care providers; raising questions on the quality care rendered in these settings. While there are needed improvements at SSLC’s; closing these facilities is not the solution to delivering the best care for the individuals.

. . . The DADS Sunset Report then points out the fact that private group homes lack the resources, infrastructure, and staff needed to address complex health and behavior issues. Eighty percent of individuals residing in SSLC’s have high-risk behavioral challenges, intensive medical needs, and both IDD and mental diagnoses. The 24-hour health services provided at SSLC’s allow for the immediate and consistent attention these “high-need” individuals require. Closing SSLC’s and transitioning the residents into private group homes that are unable to provide these critical services threaten the quality of care that is desperately needed.

. . . Closing six SSLC’s will result in the loss of over 6500 state jobs. Comparable jobs in the private group homes generally have lower pay and no access to health care and secure retirement benefits. Not only will the layoffs be a tremendous burden on those affected; but also local economies will be damaged by the significant loss of jobs.

. . . TSEU understands that some individuals are better served in communities while others are better served in state facilities. However, individuals and families need the option to choose an environment that meets their specific needs.

. .  .Join TSEU in our campaign to save State Supported Living Centers as a choice to meet the specific needs of individuals and families. TSEU is building a coalition of parent groups, advocates, political leaders at the state and local level, along with others, to save this vital option and the jobs of dedicated specialized caregivers. TSEU is building momentum with a postcard campaign by getting members, employees and others to send the message to their legislators. We will be having meetings with key legislators and local leaders who would be affected by closures. Most importantly we will be building the power of the union as a voice for state workers.

Here’s what you can do now to turn the tide on State Supported Living Center closures:

1. Join the union to show state officials you are serious about saving SSLC’s and our jobs.

2. Join CWA/Cope to build our union’s political influence.

3. Fill out our Save State Supported Living Center postcard. (contact any TSEU office for supplies)

4. If you are already a member sign-up a co-worker and talk to your organizer about getting more involved.