Before our first trip to Richmond State School, we imagined it as a dark place with prison-type buildings, a prime spot for the type of abuse stories that have been widely publicized in the last several years.
It wasn't that way.
When we started going to privately-owned facilities -- often called community-based services -- in Harris and Fort Bend counties, we pictured a family-type setting that was a progressive alternative to the institutionalized state schools.
Again, we were often wrong.
In fact, just about every preconceived notion we had about state schools versus private homes was wrong. The push from legislators and advocacy groups to move out state school residents is strong, and private homes are competing, almost fighting, to house that population.
For example, one man who runs a private home and day rehabilitation
facility, told us that he had kidnapping charges filed against him
after two residents from another group home showed up at his doorstep.
Trevor Falk, a 24-year-old with Down syndrome, has lived in both sides of the system, and his experiences are quite different. You can read about it in this week's cover story, The Recruit.