Southeastern Virginia Training Center

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Southeastern Virginia Training Center
Opened 1975
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Chesapeake, VA
Alternate Names


Since 1975 Southeastern Virginia Training Center has been one of the service options in the community-based system of supports for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families who live in Health Planning Region 5 (HPR V). HPR V includes the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach as well as the Colonial, Western Tidewater, Middle Peninsula/Northern Neck, and Eastern Shore Community Services Boards.

When first built, SEVTC provided habilitation and support services to individuals with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. Two hundred people in residence lived in twenty 8 and 10-bed cottages where supports and training were provided. Many of the residents planned to live in their home communities and SEVTC provided parent/family training and a quick transition back to community residences. Today those now living at SEVTC often have significant disabilities and or behavioral disorders, making community living more difficult.

There has also been a transition from a focus on remediation of skill deficits and matching people to programs, to an emphasis on strengths and the adaptation of environments to support the interests and abilities of individuals. The impetus for this change has largely come from the individuals for whom we have been providing services. Individuals with disabilities do not consider themselves to be “broken” or in need of being “fixed”. Rather, they seek to live their lives in ways that are consistent with their own interests, preferences, and aspirations. During the last ten years, Virginia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) has engaged in a major transformation initiative to replace its historic emphasis on institutionally based care to one that promotes opportunities for individuals to fully participate in community life.

The facility at SEVTC that opened in 1975 was not designed to serve the population it now supports. The individuals who are being served today have severe and profound disabilities and many have serious medical or behavioral complexities. They require services and 24-hour a day supports that are highly structured and intensive. The medical and behavioral needs are projected to increase in the years to come and as the population ages. Reflecting this change, SEVTC opened in 2012 a new state of the art neighborhood. Fifteen homes each supporting 5 individuals while at the same time community capacity was expanded and many of the individuals living at SEVTC moved into the community based housing.

In 2012 DBHDS entered into an agreement with the United States Department of Justice to close all of Virginia’s Training Centers except SEVTC by 2020. [1]