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Caregivers For Disabled Fight Proposed Shutdown Of Sonoma Developmental Center

SONOMA COUNTY (KPIX 5) – Susan Farrell's life is about to change, completely. The closure of her long term care facility is a change her brother worries she can't handle.

"It keeps me up many nights," said Brian Farrell, "I cry when I'm driving. I visit the cemetery and I tell my parents I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that Susan is safe and protected."

The state is shutting down Susan's home, the Sonoma Developmental Center, because the federal government will no longer support funding to community-style centers for the developmentally disabled. That means Susan and almost 400 other people, will be forced to relocate into smaller, community based homes and care.

"Clearly there are not enough resources in community placement already," said Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin. "How do they expect us to have a feeling of security for, and comfort for our family members, when they are being forced out of the center?"

The state has given them three years to make that transition. That's a tall order because the majority of the residents are seniors who have lived at the center for their entire life, or people who didn't do well in the very community homes they are supposed to go back to.

Caregivers are fighting to keep the center open as long as they can, until they can find better alternatives to community care.

"I hope we'll find people there who will listen and I believe there are good people there," Farrell said. "But the system is designed for cost savings for a one size fits all approach. And so it's going to be a long battle but we will not give up."

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