Missouri Mental Health Director Keith Schafer heard from the families of residents of the Nevada Habilitation Center during a two-hour meeting Friday. They told him they have serious concerns about the state’s plan to convert the center into a state-operated community waiver service operation, transferring the 95 residents to “individualized support living” facilities elsewhere in the state. Schafer said the state’s budget woes have created no good options and the Department of Mental Health is trying to find the one that’s the least bad.

He encouraged family members to write brief, to-the-point letters to the state’s six Mental Health Commissioners and lawmakers.

Representative Barney Fisher said he understands families prefer Habilitation Center care because of previous unfavorable group-home experiences.

Habilitation Center family support association president Natalie Woods asked family members to make personal visits to Jefferson City, especially over the next two weeks as the legislature works on the state budget. Nevada Mayor Jayne Novak, City Councilman James McKenzie, Vernon County Southern Commissioner Kennon Shaw and Nevada Housing Authority Executive Director Carol Branham also attended Friday afternoon’s meeting.

Russ Warren, Missourinet affiliate KNEM, contributed this report.