Same song, different verse

Since President Kennedy went public with his own sister Rosemary’s intellectual disability, the nation has moved away from housing people like her in institutions.

At Kennedy’s urging, Congress passed laws designed to move people with intellectual and mental disabilities into more natural community settings.

Now, 50 years later, the report card on how we’ve done in this massive effort is out. And we haven’t made good grades.

The money that supported expensive institutions has not transferred to the community. Families who have a person with a disability in their household are bearing an increasing financial burden.

Four years ago, The Arc, a family support organization released an eye-opening and discouraging report on how the nation has done in this era of change. It is titled Still in the Shadows with Their Future Uncertain.

And today, the New York Times ran an op-ed by a psychiatrist pointing out that the movement has not worked out well either for people with mental illness.

People in this population have ended up homeless or in prison or in other inappropriate settings.

In short, we still haven’t done what we need to do for our most vulnerable citizens. And the prospects for change are not good, given the budget-cutting that seems to be the rage across the country.

I encourage you to not only read the report and the op-ed, but to look at the comments on the opinion piece. They are equally enlightening.