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LARC Ranch faces cuts

LARC Ranch fights for essential services for mentally disabled

Posted: August 11, 2009 8:28 p.m.
Updated: August 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Kathleen Sturkey, executive director at LARC Ranch, discusses programs that could be affected due to budget cuts.

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Officials at Los Angeles Retarded Citizens’ Ranch in Saugus are trying to make some tough choices after their budget was cut 3 percent in the wake of state revenue shortfalls.

“They don’t have lobbyists,” said Robert Stewart, a member of the board for the ranch that provides assisted living for developmentally disabled adults and seniors. “It’s the lowest-hanging fruit, and it’s easiest to slash.”

LARC Ranch’s budget cuts amount to a total loss of about $100,000 a year, which is made more severe when coupled with the rising costs of living.

“It’s a tough thing because we have to continue to provide services with money we are no longer getting,” Executive Director Kathleen Sturkey said.

Some of the residents of LARC Ranch hold minimum-wage jobs at businesses such as Ralphs and Magic Mountain, but still many rely on Social Security and MediCal.

“Our residents have lost numerous benefits,” Sturkey said, citing medical, dental and optometry as examples. “It’s going to be a search for us to see how we can find any other affordable means to help replace the services that they lost.”

She blasted legislators for apparently being out of touch with the least privileged.

“They (the legislators) must be on a different boat, and that boat is riding high and healthy and wealthy. And it disturbs me,” she said. “All of us are taught: You don’t spend more than you have and you don’t get a loan if you can’t pay it back.”

LARC Ranch is funded by the North Los Angeles County Regional Center, which is tied to the California Department of Developmental Services.

The ranch, which on Sept. 13 celebrates its 50-year anniversary, is located on a 65-acre plot. The property holds 13 eight-bedroom homes, all staffed 24 hours a day by house managers.

Sturkey and her staff believe that by providing developmentally disabled adults and seniors a home-like environment, the residents will feel the sense of a fuller life.

About 10 years ago, the ranch switched from dormitories to houses; the change fostered a more meaningful sense of place.

“We’ve had clients who have gone home to their families,” said Charles Sturkey, director of operations. “And after two or three days they say, ‘Well, I’m ready to go back home,’ home being LARC Ranch.”

 

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