The Closing of Monson Developmental Center
At 11:30 AM on August 30, 2012 a landmark moment occurred when the last resident left the Monson Developmental Center. Monson and other Massachusetts institutions, the Fernald Center for example, were built over 100 years ago with the purpose of providing services to people with disabilities in a large, centralized setting.
Large-scale institutions are no longer considered best practice for people with developmental disabilities, and most recent growth in long-term care across the United States has occurred in community-based settings. Existing empirical evidence overwhelmingly indicates that people with developmental disabilities living in community-based settings have significantly better outcomes across a range of psychosocial and behavioral domains than those who are institutionalized (Apgar,Lerman & Jordan, 2003; Larson & Lakin, 1989, 1991; Racino & Taylor, 1993) ¹
Over the last several years, the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has been working diligently to transition individuals from various institutions. Although some chose to move to another institution, at least they were presented the option and opportunity to live in a community setting. DDS should be commended for their diligence and commitment to providing quality services to all individuals, as it has been a challenging process.
The closing of Munson is clearly cause for celebration and paves the way for the real celebration when The Fernald School is closed as well. Although the legal battle continues with the Fernald closing, the end is near!
¹ Parish, S., Lutwick, Z. (2005). A Critical Analysis of the Emerging Crisis ion Long-Term Care for People with Developmental Disabilities, Social Work, Volume 50, Number 4.