FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA) - Parents of the grown children who live in Virginia Training Centers have filed suit against the state, challenging the proposed agreement which would close four of the five centers.
The dispute centers on the legality of a case filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against the Commonwealth of Virginia on January 26, 2012.
The Centers house people with profound and other significant intellectual disabilities. The proposed settlement, which is pending federal court review, would result in the closure of four of the five Virginia Training Centers by 2021. The fifth is expected to be downsized to accommodate 75 residents at a time for short-term stays.
At the Northern Virginia Training Center on Braddock Road in Fairfax, square dancing is a regular activity. The Justice Department says institutions like this take away the civil rights on the residents. The state wants to move them to group homes, which terrifies and angers their parents and family members.
Mary Jane Moran says, "We can't neglect our most severe citizens."
Moran's son Kevin has the mental and physical capability of an infant. He's lived at the Northern Virginia Training Center since he was a toddler. She says his staff are people that have worked with him for decades and that you can't find that kind of long term knowledge base at group homes because of the lower pay and higher turnover rate.
34 year old Adam has severe behavior problems, his mother says they did try a group, but it didn't work.
Judith Korf says it's impossible for group homes to provide all the services found at training centers.. things like a sensory room... or a place to learn skills... like recycling.
Jane Anthony says "This is their community... this is as much freedom as they can handle.. they are living life to the fullest."
This is only one of Virginia's five training centers that has a pool. The northern Virginia Training Center is much more than a home. It's a community support center, providing services such as aquatic therapy, dental services, respite care and behavioral analysis to hundreds of people living in Northern Virginia.
The NVTC parents claim the state cannot legally force their children from the centers without their permission and participation. They say the action would cause irrevocable harm to their family members.
Parents and family members filed the motion to intervene as parties in the action. They're also seeing to dismiss the case, arguing that DOJ did not have standing to bring suit.
Peter Kinzler, who son is a resident at Northern Virginia Training Center said neither the Justice Department nor the Commonwealth sought their input on the terms of the agreement. In their argument, the families argue their loved ones have a right to be parties in this action because the proposed settlement directly impacts ADA legally-protected rights.