Montana needs the Montana Developmental Center. My son is 36 years old and has been at MDC for 15 years. He came to me when he was 5 years old. His biological parents died of alcoholism.

My son has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. He has had great difficulties his entire life.

He was sexually molested in a safe house when he was very little. He fulfilled the prognosis of becoming an offender himself. It is a pattern that happens to these victims. He grew up, and at a later time he offended. He was admitted to an Arizona treatment center. They cut him off from his family and medicated him so heavily that his tongue was so swollen he couldn’t communicate.

At one point he spent some time at MDC, and was sent to a Billings group home. Long story short, he got into trouble. He can’t control his impulses; consequently he makes poor decisions. The person in charge was afraid of him and let him walk off into the community, where he got involved with some very bad people.

His best interests were not served by that agency. I got him back to MDC.

He has been through the mill. Everywhere he has been has been unsafe. At MDC it has been the opposite. He is safe at MDC. I have always been kept informed. Staff members have always been professional, always answered my questions. They care about him. They have been very communicative with me.

I’m pleased at how far he has come, but it takes consistency. If he were to leave MDC and be placed willy-nilly, he’d do something that would land him in prison. He would be a victim again. He would not survive. That’s my great concern about closing MDC. My son and others have to go somewhere. They would not get the care they get at MDC.

Taking residents from a controlled, structured environment and putting them out in situations where staff are underpaid, where good staff members only stay until they get a better job – it throws kids for a loop. Group homes try, but they don’t pay people enough for continuity of service.

Thank heavens we’ve got MDC to meet the needs of these people. If we lose MDC, people will be hurt. And it’ll hurt Montana.

-- Bob Charette, 4150 Huntington Hills Road, Billings

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