This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Before joining the Disability Law Center, I worked with individuals with intellectual disabilities for 12 years. This is why I appreciate Tonya Christensen's defense of Medicaid as a safety net for vulnerable Utahns and their families ("Medicaid safety net," Forum, March 27). I also understand the difficult decision to place her daughter in a facility.
There are major gaps in the current disability service system, including a lack of short-term crisis care, little temporary relief for those caring for a person 24 hours a day and inadequate help for families dealing with complex behavioral or medical needs. Right now, a facility may be the only viable option for some.
Even so, there are more choices. The vast majority of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities reside with their families or in the community. They have jobs, attend church, go to movies, eat out, cheer the Jazz and hang out with friends.
If we commit to filling these gaps, I believe all people with disabilities can and will successfully live with family, friends, roommates, a significant other or by themselves.