A state senator wants a study to set a timetable for closing the state mental health department’s habilitation centers. Senator Scott Rupp of St. Charles has worked on mental health matters in the past. He’ll sponsor a bill next year to have the mental health department hire an expert to develop a plan to transfer all clients in habilitation centers to community-based programs. He says a dozen states have done away with all of their residential centers. He says Missouri hasn’t been moving as quickly as he would like. Rupp thinks it is inevitable that the state will close its habilitation centers. But he says it should be done in a way that provides places for continued treatment instead of giving clients only a few weeks to find a place after a closing announcement is made. He’d like to have the study done within a year, with a five year transition time for all habilitation center residents.
Rupp says the state will save millions of dollars. He says the cost of serving and housing someone in a habilitation center averages about $350-600 a day. But he says the average cost in a community residential facility is about $200 a day.