The state Department of Human Services plans to change the way it cares for individuals with developmental disabilities.
That’s led one lawmaker to call for the closing of the state’s original care facility.
The South Dakota Developmental Center currently treats about 70 people with developmental disabilities. It was built more than 100 years ago in the small town of Redfield. The center once treated more than 450 people at a time.
The Department of Human Services plans to shift to smaller care facilities across the state. Those could be open for residents within the next few years.
However, one lawmaker says the state should also consider the cost of such care.
Sioux Falls Republican Steve Haugaard says having one facility makes it difficult for families who don’t live near Redfield.
“We just need to be honest with Redfield and tell them we’re closing this thing down within a number of years,” Haugaard says. “Right now we’re spending $300,000 dollars per person per year to house these individuals. If we drop that population down to 60-some this year it’ll be $400,000 per person to keep them there. Those services can be provided elsewhere.”
Haugaard says the services could be spread across the state. There are also 74 open beds at the Human Services Center in Yankton.
Others disagree. State Senator Brock Greenfield is upset that Representative Haugaard ambushed Developmental Center officials with calls to shut them down.
“Those people work their tails off,” Greenfield says. “They are overworked, they’re underappreciated, they’re underpaid, and I want them to know how much I appreciate them. How much the northeast part of the state and the broader state of South Dakota appreciate them.”
Greenfield says it is shortsighted to say the state can diminish costs by relocating the facility or its residents.