PIERRE, S.D. — No one is losing their job at the South Dakota Developmental Center as a result of a recommended reduction of 30 full-time positions in the state Department of Human Service's 2021 budget.
The state Department of Human Service's Secretary, Shawnie Rechtenbaugh, discussed the proposed 2021 budget during a legislative committee meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 10, in Pierre.
"Those 30 positions were unfilled," Rechtenbaugh said. "We still have some vacancies that we're trying to fill. We don't want to be understaffed either."
There are about 100 people being served at the developmental center in Redfield, according to Daniel Hoblick, spokesman for the state Department of Human Services.
Of the 30 vacant positions set to be cut, 25 are unfilled direct support professional positions.
There are currently 65 vacant positions at the developmental center, which means the state will still be trying to fill 35 vacant positions once the reduction is made in 2021.
"We'll still have 35 positions that we are actively trying to fill," said South Dakota Developmental Center Director Barb Abeln of staffing issues after the reductions are made.
The center currently has about 285 employees on staff, Abeln said.
The developmental center provides support services for people with mental and developmental disabilities that need around the clock, intensive care and cannot be supported in a residential or community setting.
The center offers two programs, one for men, some of which may have legal conditions, Abeln said.
The other program is for men, women and children. Abeln said the men in this program "may not exhibit the degree of challenging behaviors" like those in the other program.
When asked by state Sen. Brock Greenfield if the people served at the developmental center are more prone to acting out, Abeln said yes, but that the behaviors depend on each individualized person.
"Everything is individualized," Abeln reiterated.
Greenfield said his concern was with whether or not the developmental center's $25.3 million proposed budget for 2021 could handle the overtime expenses that will be needed to ensure the center is fully staffed at all times.
Gov. Kristi Noem's proposed 2021 recommends a $1.5 million budget decrease for the developmental center.
Both Rechtenbaugh and Abeln said that staffing issues have been longstanding at the developmental center, but it's something that they are able to work through and budget accordingly for.
Rechtenbaugh said that the developmental center accrues an average of 2,000 overtime hours per month.
"We generally have overtime each month," Rechtenbaugh said.
In an email, Hoblick said that the developmental center still provides long term support services.
"However, over the years there has been a shift that Individuals no longer come to (the South Dakota Developmental Center) to spend their entire lives," Hoblick wrote. "(South Dakota) has a combination of community-based settings and residential institutional settings which provide services and supports to individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Community-based settings honor the inherent value of every person and empower individuals to choose the direction of their own lives.
"Therefore, we want to make every effort to maximize community-based settings for these individuals."
Hoblick added the reduction of 30 full-time positions will not result in any change in current operations at the developmental center.