photo of children in institution at piano
© Regents of the University of Michigan.

Wisconsin has come a long way in moving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) out of institutions, but the state still has three state-run institutions where more than 300 people live.

Other states have worked to completely close their institutions and carefully design supports to relocate people, even those with the greatest medical and other needs, to community settings.

It is important to remember the history of institutions for people with I/DD in Wisconsin.

Please take the time to review these materials:

Children of Misfortune: One Hundred Years of Public Care for People with (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) in Wisconsin *note this publication uses the R-word; The Arc no longer supports use of this term

Watch the story of three friends who met in the state institution and now live together in the community.  (11 minute video)

Stories of Wisconsinites who have relocated from Institutions:

  • Phil’s Story: Article
    • Beginning in 1954, at the age of 8, Phil lived in a number of Wisconsin’s state institutions  before finally moving to a supported apartment when he was 46 years old.
  • Darwin’s Story: Article
    • Darwin was placed by his mother in a state institution when he was 8. He lived their 47 years. He now loves his life in the community with his two roommates.
  • Cindy’s Story: Article
    • Cindy was placed in a state institution when she was 8. She got out in her mid-twenties and now enjoys her life in her own home with her cats.

People First Wisconsin’s Position on State Institutions

Wisconsin State Institutions Facts 2019

State Institutions Recommendations 2019