Closing InstitutionsWhy This Is Important
One of the most important changes in services and supports to individuals with disabilities has been the move away from large institutions toward smaller, more personal and individual settings. In this generation, the population in institutions for persons with intellectual disabilities has been reduced from over 200,000 to under 50,000 in the United States. This reflects both the imperative of the broad civil rights movement in society as well as the fast growth of community services throughout the country. Much has been accomplished, but clearly much remains to be done. While some would proclaim the end of the institutional era of services, many thousands of individuals still are not able to participate in the array of community options that exist today. Institutional closure is essentially a negative concept. It does not describe what will exist in its place. The Closing Institutions department of the QualityMall.org wants to offer a range of products which reflect more personal and individualized supports, methods and means which have been or are being used to assist in closing institutions. These may involve direct means of bringing about the decision to close institutions or they may address means of creating alternatives to the institution which are more personal and individualized. This is important because merely focusing on institutional closure may inadvertently result in the continuation of congregate supports that do little more than the institution to support the individual fulfillment of those participating in the service. What is created to replace the institution must respect and recognize the full rights of the person and family involved. The supports must result in more personally satisfying and designed supports for each person involved. This department's mission is to communicate those best practices that are occurring in this area so that others may benefit from their success.