Budget Cuts Might Mean Big Layoffs at the Sonoma Developmental Center

About 50 part-time adult education teachers are at risk of losing their contracts with the latest, $1.3 million cut


Budget cuts and furlough days have long plagued staff at the Sonoma Developmental Center. But dwindling resources have reached a fever pitch with a $1.3 million cut, which may mean losing 50 part-time workers at the state-run residential care facility for developmentally disabled adults.

The state has eliminated a 21-year adult education program, contracted at $1.3 million annually through the Sonoma County Office of Education. This program provides recreational workers who lead residents through activities – including art, music, mobility and painting – in two, two-hour sessions per day. The classes make up the bulk of the center's four hours of daily recreation, mandated by California law in state-run facilities.

"Everybody’s definitely losing," said Jeannie Knighton, Director of Adult Services for the county. Though the program's contract ends June 30, according to Knighton the Developmental Center is trying to find additional funds to keep services through July – and possibly beyond.

"They’re trying to be really optimistic with us, but so far they haven’t found funds – so we have to prepare for the worst," she said. 

For the 50 recreation technicians who work in the program, the worst means layoffs.

"The Developmental Center used to be the biggest employer in the county and now it's just crumbling,"  said Kim Enzensperger, a part-time and substitute recreation tech who has worked at the Developmental Center since the mid-80s. "It's just sad."

In March the Kenwood Press chronicled the Developmental Center's decline, from 3,500 patients in 1965 to just over 558 residents in Dec. of 2011.

Since most state-run facilities have been closed when they reach 500 residents, the Kenwood Press called the closure of the sprawling Developmental Center "inevitable."

The layoffs aren't set in stone. According to a statement released by Nancy Lungren, a media coordinator for the Department of Developmental Services,  the facility is "evaluating all expenditures including their Adult Education contract" for elimination this year. 

The Developmental Center will continue to fulfill the state mandated four-hours of education and recreation, regardless of monetary pressure, reads the statement.

But if the cuts go through, providing four-hours per day of recreation and activities may be difficult with a full-time staff already stretched thin.

"They do not even have enough staff for regular services, let alone the recreation and walking and all the services that we were providing," said Enzensperger.

For Enzensperger that means that she'll keep doing her work, but without pay.

"I can't just leave the residents: I have relationships with them and they deserve this level of care," she said.

christy June 18, 2012 at 09:55 PM
the bottom line is this.....the folks who live @ SDC need to be taken care of. Maybe 'DEE' can come work Noc Shift with me (2230-0645), then get mandated to work Am Shift (0630-1445) because there simply IS NOT ENOUGH STAFF. I thank each and every retired Psych Tech that decides to do a few shifts a month! Not only does it increase the quality of care for clients, it lowers the amount of mandated overtimes that happen every single day during each and every shift.
christy June 18, 2012 at 10:00 PM
are you kidding me? You have NO IDEA what you are talking about. Maybe you are upset about your own retirement, or lack there of. If you are really concerned about saving California tax payers, roll up YOUR sleeves and work @ SDC for 8 hrs for FREE.
Zahzoo Pitts July 30, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Actually, it is Retired Annuatants who are SAVING taxpayers money, and if utilized more would save thousands of hours of overtime pay to fill in on understaffed units. Retired Annuatants do not cost taxpayers the retirement and benefits packages that hiring a new employee would cost the state, as well as not being paid the time and a half for overtime. The clients deserve care and that care deserves to be paid for. Those who work there also pay into the taxes their salaries come out of. Also, when a regular employee gets hurt on the job, they are entitled to work compensation, but Retired Annuitants are not...as I understand it, they work at their own risk, basically...and this type of job does injure workers. And yes, any and all volunteers would probably welcome...what exactly is it that you could do for them? All in all, a more robust and effective Retired Annuitant program saves the state and it's taxpaying citizens much more than they cost us.
Zahzoo Pitts July 30, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Please...educate yourself before opening yourself up to truth. To get a "whole salary" one must have worked 40 years AND reached the age of 63. Not many reach that!! Because the facility is short both of staff and money, retired annuitants are utilized to save money and this does afford retirees employment who are finding the crashing economy changes their retirement ideal somewhat. Many retirees who have fallen on harder times than their budgets anticipated are finding they MUST return to working. The facility needs to save both money and serve their clients...who better than folks who put much of their lives into the place and have the requisite skills and experience. The key is putting people where they do the MOST good, serve our clients, and save us all money. Seems like a win win WIN to me, dispite the adverse circumstances to which we all come to this place: clients who need care no matter what, the state which is broke beyond comprhension and retirees who have been crushed themselves by this very economy. It is no gravy train. All that being said, are there places in state service where abuse of this system takes place....YES!!! But the problem lies with tthose well ABOVE level of care workers!
Zahzoo Pitts July 30, 2012 at 07:57 PM
waving accross the campus at you NOC person! oy those AM holdovers...wish more RAs wanted to work mornings... most I see are here on NOCs with us!!


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