Officials say the shift away from round-the-clock institutional care for people with disabilities has led to layoffs at the largest employer in the town of Woodward.
Twenty-seven jobs at the Woodward Resource Center were eliminated Tuesday. Roger Munns, a spokesman for the state agency that manages the facility, says that adjusts staffing levels to the reduced number of disabled residents.
“Both of our facilities, at Woodward and Glenwood, have worked very hard, vigorously, to try to find community or home-based placements for people with disabilities and we’ve been very successful, averaging about a dozen new placements from both places,” Munns says. “As a result of this, budgets and staff have been reduced.”
In the past five years, there’s been a 25 percent reduction in the number of full-time residents in the Woodward facility.
“There are fewer people to care for,” Munns says, “and, obviously, you need fewer staff.”
On Monday, nearly 700 people were employed to provide 24/7 care for 181 disabled residents. A total of 27 staff positions were eliminated Tuesday, but some union workers who got layoff notices will be able to take the position of an employee in a similar job who has less seniority. As the number of Woodward residents declined in recent years, layoffs had been avoided through staff turnover.
“Normal attrition — people leaving for other positions — but there wasn’t very much turnover at Woodward,” Munns says. “There were very few people who left for the incentive for early retirement a couple of years ago. As a result, there are more people (on staff) than the budget can support.”
The Glenwood Resource Center in western Iowa is the permanent home for 263 disabled residents. Managers of that facility say they “will be able to manage reduced budgets without layoffs this year.”