OUR OPINION: Regional center unlocks better life for thousands

Daily Journal Editorial

North Mississippi Regional Center – a remarkable residential campus in Oxford and regionally exceeded program for developmentally disabled Mississippians – marks its 40th anniversary Wednesday with a 1:30 p.m. public event featuring an address by U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., a Tupelo resident.

The center, on a quiet campus off Highway 7 South, provides licensed, 24-hour care to 476 people living in 12 cottages on its main campus in Oxford and 20 licensed community homes. NMRC assists more than 2,500 other citizens through community-based services including traditional group homes, supported living apartments, case management, work activity/prevocational centers, and its early intervention, day services-adult, community employment, and support coordination.

It operates programs for the 23 northern-most Mississippi counties.

NMRC has been instrumental in reshaping public attitudes about developmental disabilities, at one time referred to almost exclusively as mental retardation. North Mississippi Regional Center placed professional care and progress to a maximum degree as a priority for every resident. Disability has many degrees of severity, but a remarkable number of NMRC clients have been able to live in group homes, hold appropriate jobs and to participate to a remarkable degree in the events and relationships within their families.

The North Mississippi center has been sharply criticized with many other similar centers as a more costly and less efficient method than community-based care. That debate continues within government and the professions involved in treating and working with developmentally disabled people.

In addition, NMRC has grown in four decades, and it has 1,000 employees. Its constituency, including the families and friends of clients, is an influential political interest group, which is an overall positive in keeping appropriate public attention focused on its work and its funding needs.

“NMRC’s future is bright. Across the nation, services for persons with developmental disabilities continue to evolve toward increased availability of community programs and wrap-around supports. NMRC always has provided quality programs and a high standard of care, including community based services. We will continue to expand those options, and our staff will continue to ensure that positive supports are always provided for our clients and families,” said BJ Davis Director of Public Information and Volunteers at the center. Its information is available at www.nmrc.state.ms.us.