Families that choose to keep a handicapped individual at home save the state thousands of dollars every year, but the state says thank you by denying them access to even limited services, according to testimony presented to the Social Services and Health Appropriations Subcommittee.

Keith Richan, whose mentally and physically handicapped son has been cared for at home, said the only advice he ever got was to "put him in the Utah State Training School," but the family decided that the boy would be better off at home.Unfortunately, Richan said, when cuts in services to the handicapped were made, they were borne by those who had never been in an institution, even though their disabilities were severe enough to warrant it.

"Had I committed him for as much as a month, he'd have been protected," Richan said. "It doesn't make sense that the ones who do the most (and save the state money) are the ones we reciprocate the least to." He told the lawmakers, "Please don't force us to institutionalize our kids to get state funds."

The legislators listened to similar testimony for others, and agreed that the question of "penalizing" families for taking care of their own children will have to be taken into account during the budgeting process.