MAHONING COUNTY MRDD Duck: Most services will continue through '06

The Rayen workshop will close by the end of next year.
AUSTINTOWN -- Despite losing millions in federal funding, most of the local services to Mahoning County's Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities clients will be continued through 2006, said Superintendent Larry Duck.
Duck did say the Rayen Avenue workshop in Youngstown will close by the end of the year.
Duck reported on the status of services at MRDD's board meeting Monday at Leonard Kirtz School.
The Community Alternative Funding System, which is a Medicaid reimbursement for services to MRDD individuals and disabled schoolchildren, ended in Ohio on June 30 when the federal agency overseeing the CAFS program withdrew funding because of compliance issues. The loss of funding affected all Ohio MRDD programs and public school districts, Duck said.
CAFS funding paid for things such as physical and occupational therapies as well as transportation and day services for adult clients attending the board's workshops, Duck said.
Scrambling since April
State MRDD officials have been scrambling since April to create some alternative funding streams to make up for the lost money. Duck said that only about $1.5 million in replacement funding will be available to take the place of CAFS.
"That leaves us with a shortfall of about $2.5 million. That money will be made up by means of layoffs and restructuring of client programs," he said.
In addition to the replacement funding, the state provided additional money to a group of residential MRDD providers. Operators of intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded began receiving an additional $32.32 per day beginning July 1.
That money can be used for paying county MRDD boards to provide adult day services or the ICF-MR organizations can develop their own day programming, Duck said. The $32.32 per client/per day funding is less than the county board's per client-per day cost of $60.
In Mahoning County, Gateways to Better Living and Consumer Support Services operate ICF-MR programs. Both organizations have signed extended service agreements with the MRDD board that will assure all current clients receive services, Duck said.
Both Gateways and CSS have indicated they intend to begin providing adult day programming by Dec. 31 or sooner.
Gateways has 130 MRDD clients attending county board programs; CSS has 26 MRDD clients.
Duck said the shifting of 156 clients to another service provider will reduce the need for the board to operate three sheltered workshops, so Rayen Avenue will close.
Workshops to continue
The board will continue operating the workshop at Bev Road and the Meshel workshop located on Marwood Circle, both in Boardman.
The retirement or seniors program will move from Leonard Kirtz School to 153 Javit Court when the new habilitation facility for elderly and medically fragile MRDD clients opens in September, Duck said.
He said plans are under way to work with Gateways to make a smooth transition in providing adult day services to the 130 clients that will be served by Gateways after December 2005. No specific long-term arrangements have been made with CSS at this time, he added.
Duck said MRDD staff will work closely with Gateways to make sure there is no loss of client care days.
"Gateways' administrative staff has a strong vocational background, and should have no problems establishing an adult day services program," Duck said.
The closing of Rayen would bring the total employee reduction to about 50. When the new Javit Court facility is fully operational, possibly as many as 10 of the laid-off workers could be recalled to work there, Duck added.
Changes in the MRDD's school and early intervention programs already have been initiated. The early intervention program's 94 children will continue in their current program, but no new admissions will be made.
Help Me Grow
All future referrals will be directed to the Mahoning County Educational Service Center's Help Me Grow program. Help Me Grow is the primary provider for early intervention services in Ohio.
Duck said one preschool unit was closed for the coming year. The MRDD board, however, was able to transfer that unit to the MCESC for the coming year. As a result, there will be two additional preschool units replacing the one that closed, as well as one autism unit.
"We have closed one class and replaced it with three classes, yet reduced costs," Duck said. The new classrooms will be operated by the MCESC at Leonard Kirtz.
The preschool teacher who was laid off by the MRDD board has been hired by the MCESC and will work at Leonard Kirtz. That teacher will be employed by MCESC, Duck said.

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