Panel reconvenes on Regional Center closure

The Colorado Department of Human Services is reconvening an advisory group to make suggestions for the future of the Grand Junction Regional Center, heading ever closer to the July 1, 2018, deadline to vacate the Riverside Parkway campus.

Amid concerns about the cost of maintaining the approximately 46-acre campus, which originally was designed for 900 people and currently houses 23, a law passed last year calls for vacating the campus and relocating the people currently living there.

In a letter sent March 9, 2016, to regional center parents, staff and other stakeholders, state Human Services officials reported that the total cost of caring for those individuals, factoring in operating costs for the old buildings and facilities as well as other expenses, was more than $1,000 per person per day. In comparison, the Wheat Ridge Regional Center, a facility providing similar services, operates at $703 per person per day, according to the letter.

The law also required forming an advisory group that “must include direct care staff of the campus, families of persons receiving services at the campus, and other stakeholders.” The committee was required to submit a plan, including how proceeds from sale of the D Road land would be spent, to the Legislature’s Capital Development Committee no later than Dec. 10.

The Department of Human Services submitted a plan in November that made no budget requests, though Department Director Reggie Bicha said Monday that Gov. John Hickenlooper proposed $12 million for the transition but the Legislature made no move on that proposal.

The advisory group’s plan proposed building four new group homes in Grand Junction to house the 22 regional center residents — one resident has indicated a desire to seek other services, Bicha said. The Department of Human Services has about 60 clients at group homes in Grand Junction, with a capacity for 80 people, though one of those homes currently is offline, Bicha said.

In a March 17 memo to the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, JBC staff member Megan Davisson wrote that the submitted plan didn’t include any specifics on the proposed homes, so the CDC didn’t recommend a funding allotment in next year’s budget.

The reconvened advisory group will consider, analyze and price out several proposals for the transition, Bicha said, adding that “the goal is to have something ready” for the governor’s Nov. 1 budget request.


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