Sonoma Developmental Center parents speak out

At the Sonoma Developmental Center on Saturday, John Doyle, chief deputy director of the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS), told a gathering of parents and guardians of SDC residents, “Resources must be available in the community before transition takes place. We’re aware of the concerns and we take them very seriously.”

The transition Doyle was referring to is the expected movement of an undetermined number of residents from the 123-year-old facility on the outskirts of Glen Ellen, to smaller, cheaper and ostensibly more efficient group homes in adjacent communities, most or all of which do not yet exist.

And while Doyle sought to assuage the anxieties of family members who have had sons and daughters, sisters and brothers for decades in the Arnold Drive facility, most of the 17 people who addressed a panel of legislators and legislative aids expressed little or no faith in DDS plans to provide a satisfactory and harmonious transition from SDC into the broader community.

Assembled for an annual legislative affairs meeting, the March 8 event was sponsored by the Parent Hospital Association (PHA), a group of family members, guardians and advocates for SDC residents.

A woman who said her brother had been at SDC for 80 years, told the gathering, “You do not get the service on the outside you have here. My brother had glaucoma and it was caught immediately and cured ... Here they get a well-balanced meal ... Outside the group homes, you see them eating at McDonald’s at 10 o’clock in the morning.”

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