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Lawmakers Consider Closing Montana Developmental Center After Abuse Claims

Montana Developmental Center (Courtesy photo)
Montana Developmental Center (Courtesy photo)

A House panel is considering whether Montana Developmental Center in Boulder should be closed, after multiple reports of clients being physically or sexually assaulted. MDC treats people with developmental disabilities, who are sent there by court order.  

Bernadette Franks-Ongoy, who heads Disability Rights Montana, says ongoing reports of physical and sexual abuse against clients justify closing the center, and transferring its residents to community-based group homes.

“Every provider will tell you that they can provide services to the people at Montana Developmental Center. There isn’t a single person in that facility that cannot be served in that community, as long as they have access to the money to make it work.”

She says the state’s own investigators continue to find that abuse and neglect of clients “plague” the center.  
But the union that represents state employees is fighting the closure. At a union-sponsored news conference Wednesday, Stan Danielson of Antelope said his son received better treatment at MDC, than a group home could have provided.

"Montana needs MDC.  MDC is no doubt the most cost-effective way to serve people with serious disabilities in the long run," Danielson said.

The House Human Services Committee is hearing testimony today on a Senate-passed bill to phase out the MDC over two years.  The Center provides about 250 jobs in Jefferson County.

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