Developmental Disabilities of Clark County finds homes for residents

Developmental Disabilities of Clark County has found new homes for the residents who had been living in its F.F. Mueller Center’s Yellow Cottage that closed this summer.

Yellow Cottage was home to 12 people with developmental disabilities who were offered the opportunity to use a state-funded Medicaid program or waiver to move into the community as part of a push to integrate individuals with special needs into community living, said Jennifer Rousculp-Miller, superintendent of the county organization.

The move initially caused concern for some families, but Rousculp-Miller said all of the families were pleased after they found a new place to live. The families couldn’t be reached for comment.

“We provided training and education to all families and guardians about this option. We worked with Housing Connection, a nonprofit, to ensure we had adequate housing for individuals who would choose to move out of the F.F. Mueller Center. We collaborated and authorized funding for the Springfield-Clark CTC to build an accessible home in Springfield for individuals to live,” she said.

The residency program at the Mueller Center has been downsizing for decades, Rousculp-Miller said. That’s due in part to changes in state funding and a state and national push to have people with disabilities live out in community settings instead of in institutions.

“(The state) is not cutting funds, what they’re doing is steering their money to where it’s more enticing for people to take that option,” Rousculp-Miller has said.

Local funding for Developmental Disabilities of Clark County has also shrunk after two levy requests have failed on the ballot.

Only 10 centers like the Mueller Center remain open across Ohio, Rousculp-Miller said.

Now that the Yellow Cottage is closed, two cottages remain occupied at the Mueller Center.

Institutionalized housing was common when the Mueller Center was opened in the 1960s, she said, but now more options exist for housing.

“Individuals can get funding and live with mom and dad — or get funding and live with some buddies in a home in the community,” Rousculp-Miller said.

Yellow Cottage closed on June 30, she said, after a year and a half of transitioning individuals to new homes that they chose.

The county assessed every individual’s needs before the move.

The former Yellow Cottage residents moved in with family members, moved into a home designed for people with special needs and with others who were receiving services at a home built by the Springfield-Clark CTC.

Five remained in the F.F. Mueller Center in the Red or Blue Cottage, she said.

“Our Community Living Services Department is responsible to ensure individuals who move within Clark County are safe, healthy and are satisfied with their services after the transition. We are responsible for this on-going oversight and continue to authorize the level of services individual needs. Services are monitored for quality, compliance and recipient satisfaction,” she said.

Linda Mundhenk’s daughter, Cheryl, moved out of the Mueller Center in the early 2000s, after living there for more than half of her adult life.

She previously told the Springfield News-Sun she was scared that her daughter wouldn’t be able to live on her own, but she has thrived since the move to a home that she shares with two friends with developmental disabilities.

“I was scared at first, but she loves it and she has adjusted so well,” Mundhenk has said.

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