California social service centre where couple killed 14 people to stay closed until next year

The social service centre in Southern California where a husband and wife killed 14 people will not reopen until next year, raising concerns that some of the 30,000 people with developmental disabilities it serves might not receive needed treatment.

The Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino had hoped to reopen next week, but spokeswoman Leeza Hoyt said Tuesday that it was pushed back to sometime after Jan. 1.

Because many of the centre’s 600 employees work in the field, officials hope services won’t be disrupted for too many people, Hoyt said. But she could not say for sure that no one would go without care.

The centre offers in-home treatment and therapy to thousands of children with autism, epilepsy and other developmental disabilities.

“In our particular case, we don’t have anything that’s time-sensitive, I’m not in the middle of requesting service or authorization for a vendor,” said Jess Block Nerren, whose 10-year-old son receives treatment for autism.

“But depending upon where someone is in that time frame, I imagine it could absolutely traumatically impact their lives,” she added, noting the centre provides treatment that would cost tens of thousands of dollars a year in some cases if paid for privately.

Hoyt said the centre is temporarily relocating its administrative offices to ensure its employees and vendors continue to be paid while they work from the field.

She said authorities are keeping everyone out of the three-building complex while they investigate the attack last Wednesday by Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik.

The couple opened fire on a conference room rented for a holiday party for Farook’s colleagues. He worked as a restaurant inspector for the San Bernardino County health department. The couple died hours later in a gunfight with police.

When authorities allow people back into the buildings, they will require cleaning and repair, Hoyt said.

“There’s been a fair amount of damage,” she said. “I’m told there’s broken glass and doors.”