The Background Behind the Decision to Close CVTC

Reporter: Melinda Zosh

Lynchburg, VA - The Central Virginia Training Center (CVTC) has helped the disabled for 100 years.

But the federal government has decided that its days are numbered. The facility will shut its doors for good in eight years.

State Senator Steve Newman says this issue isn't the federal government's business.

He says he's fought to keep CVTC open for the past 20 years, arguing that those in the Commonwealth know what's best for the center's 400 residents.

"The federal government has come in and determined they know better than us,

those of us that have taken care of these residents for years; they're dictating from Washington what we've got to do," Newman said.

The Commonwealth announced Thursday it had settled a lawsuit with the federal government.

It is one involving an alleged violation of the Supreme Court's 1999 Olmstead Decision and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is resulting in institutions like CVTC closing for good.

"They are able to dictate to Virginia that either we follow the federal path or we get sued like Georgia did, and we would lose that suit," Newman said.

The federal government ran a 3-year-long investigation of Virginia institutions, including CVTC in Amherst County.

Last February, the investigation concluded that the Commonwealth fell short in providing an "integrated" setting for the disabled.

"I think it's a very dangerous thing to start moving them out of the current setting and into a private setting," Newman said.

The Supreme Court ruled that institutions "isolate" the mentally disabled from society. But Newman says that isn't the case.

"Those individuals that are left in that facility need the most care, the most love, and we need to make sure they have options," Newman said.

Even though CVTC will close by June 2020, Newman says the loved ones are still hoping for a miracle.

"Those individuals that are left, the parents have urged us to keep them in that facility where they can be saved," Newman said.

Some projections show there will be fewer than 600 residents left in Virginia's training centers by 2015. The Commonwealth's settlement will include a plan to help these people transition into community based living.