Acadiana Region Supports and Services Center destined for privatization
"We are all extremely angry, they are going to take away our children's home." This was the feeling and overall opinion of the crowd of over 50 concerned parents that gathered at the Acadiana Region Supports and Services Center (formerly Southwest Louisiana Developmental Center) to hold a discussion about the possible privatization of the facility.
One representative explained to the flustered parental group that, "this is not a done deal, the issue still has to go through legislation," prior to privatization becoming a reality. This still did not seem to calm the worries and concerns of those with family at the school.
The proposed changes have arisen from two pressing issues, the first being the "extreme budget crisis" facing the state of Louisiana and secondly the way Louisiana operates and funds its developmental services are not in a way that can be sustained.
Currently the operating cost of the school is $396.95 daily per resident according to research done by state entities however if privatized the facility could operate at $208.00 per day per resident. This figure frightened many of the parents, they were highly concerned that their family would not receive the same level of care as they currently were receiving. Many openly wondered, "how can a private organization offer the same services at half the price of what the state currently does." The privatization of this and other similar facilities will save the state millions of dollars annually. It the case of the Acadiana campus, the private entity would own the facility and its contents, but would have to lease the land from the state.
The harsh realities seem to point to the fact that the Acadiana Region Supports and Services Center may, despite the best efforts of the parents and legislative supporters, become a privately owned facility. One of the biggest problems facing this and many other similar facilities is that when budget cuts are discuessed, the Department of Health and Hospitals and high education accounts for 70% of the state's budget so these two are the most likely of sources to consider for reductions.
If the legislation meets and confirms that this system can not be made sustainable for many, many years to come privatization may be the only option that will keep the facility open, Parents were, however, assured that in this case they will have several options to remain involved and ensure that the current level of care remains constant.