State associations came to the rescue for disabled community

By

Opinion

November 5, 2019 - 10:10 AM

Fifty years ago, an association was formed called the Kansas Association of Rehabilitation Facilities or KARF. It was created by providers throughout the state of Kansas who were concerned about the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their lack of representation and advocacy. At that time there were very few programs available and most individuals were sent to the state hospitals in Norton, Winfield, Parsons and Topeka for services. At one time there were thousands of individuals in those facilities and they were hidden away out of public sight.

In the 1970s, organizations like Tri-Valley were created by parents who were attempting to find a better life for their loved ones other than the state hospitals, and it was they, along with KARF, that fought for the rights and independence of people who were unable to care for themselves. There was very little funding, little guidance, and still only a handful or people with disabilities receiving services in a community setting. 

Flash forward 50 years and you can see the results of what those families and KARF, now called InterHab, fought for. Norton and Winfield state hospitals were closed in the 1990s and there are now hundreds of community providers across the state. Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), a Medicaid waiver service, was brought to Kansas and thousands of individuals were able to receive community placement. 

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