A government agency’s proposal to “eliminate congregate care” for people with disabilities is stirring strong reaction from advocates on both sides of the debate over institutions.

The issue came to the forefront as the Administration on Developmental Disabilities works to finalize a five-year strategic plan.

The federal agency plays an influential role over the state councils on developmental disabilities and the protection and advocacy organizations throughout the country in addition to other programs benefiting Americans with disabilities.

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After holding listening sessions in five cities, the agency drew up a list of priorities — touching on everything from access to competitive employment to strengthening family support — which will be used to establish the final plan.

But a recommendation to support closing the nation’s remaining institutional care facilities seems to be evoking the greatest response in the final days of an online public comment period, which ends Friday.

Fueled by an advocacy group called VOR, which supports institutional options for people with disabilities, numerous family members and professionals have posted comments objecting to the elimination of institutions.

“The nation needs a balanced range of service options for individuals with severe and profound intellectual and developmental disabilities, including the option of licensed facility-based care,” many wrote in their comments.

Now, advocates who want to see an end to institutional care are weighing in as well.

“We know all too well that abuse, neglect and other forms of denigration are far more likely to occur in large congregate settings. Integrated, community based housing is the only policy the federal government should be supporting,” read an e-mail sent by The Arc late last week asking members to comment in favor of the proposal.

A final strategic plan is expected later this spring.