The State of Iowa is receiving a 51-million dollar federal grant to shift over five-hundred mentally disabled Iowans into at-home or group-home care. Iowa Department of Human Services director Kevin Concannon says few other states have as many mentally disabled people in large institutions.

"The families of people with severely disabled family members years ago had basically two choices: either struggle on their own unassisted or to place that family member in a state institution," Concannon says. "Happily, now, we have more choices in that regard and this grant will allow us to expedite those efforts to individualize the support for people in communities in more home-like settings.

The grant will help 575 current mentally retarded residents of "intermediate care facilities" move out of those institutions and receive state-paid services in a group home, or even back home with a family member.

"But (the grant’s) implications are much larger," Concannon says. "This can help us, basically, improve our system of care for these individuals across the state, even those individuals who are not currently in the (institutional) facilities." Governor Chet Culver says the five-year federal grant is among the largest ever received by the State of Iowa.

"This is a great program that will help hundreds of families that are now limited in terms of the choices they have," Culver says. Most Iowans who have severe mental disabilities are covered under the government’s Medicaid program. State officials say that today, over 22-hundred Iowans with a severe mental disability live in an institution. Nearly six-hundred of them live in state-run facilities for the mentally-retarded at Glenwood and Woodward.