New York State Group Homes in "The New York Times"
The latest article in the "Abused and Used" series in chronicling the abuse in New York State group homes appeared in "The New York Times" just before New Year's. The article focuses on one of the operators: Federation of Multicultural Operators of Brooklyn. The full text of the article is here:
The financial history and hiring practices alone of the Federation are shocking enough. But the 27 citations for failing to meet health and safety standards in Federation's Intermediate Care Facilities (all issued between 2006 and 2010) would be, one would think enough to make New York State want to sever ties with this operator. C.E.O. Danny King, who is a retired police officer with no experience in the developmental services field before starting work with the Federation, doesn't seem concerned, according to the "Times".
Just an Observation
Working in the developmental services field, I've noticed that we're learning as we go along. We thought that institutionalizing people with intellectual disabilities was the best thing for them for a while. Now we don't. Now we're becoming aware that even the best of community residential options brings up issues around rights and safety and how people in staffed homes should be interacting with the people they support. In the almost twenty years that I've been involved with agencies that support people with disabilities, I've seen ways of thinking come into favour and fall out of favour and settle in the middle and then move toward one side again.
I'm okay with working in a field where there a lot of "grey areas" and issues that need to be worked out. I don't tend to think in absolutes, and I've got a lot of patience. However...
No Patience or "Grey Areas" for New York State Group Homes
I do not see grey areas, and I have no patience, when it comes to people who violate the safety of vulnerable people and of animals. Abused kids need to go to a safe place and parents should have to go through a long, comprehensive rehabilitation process before they get them back (if it's ever appropriate). People who abuse animals shouldn't be allowed to own pets.
And a service provider that receives 27 citations within 4 years for safety violations within housing (including the Federation's failure to investigate abuse, inadequate medical care, and medication errors), should simply not be allowed operate New York state group homes. Period.
The article says that this all started four decades ago with the state's decision to stop institutionalizing people with disabilities and a the lack of an oversight agency that could do proper and timely inspections of the group homes that people ended up in. Forty years is a long time not to have learned as they've gone along with this. Particularly as the first small public group homes became multi-million corporations like the Federation, one would think that the state would have seen the need to put proper oversight and inspection procedures in place.
It makes me wonder, again, about how much society really values people with disabilities.
I keep seeing evidence that it doesn't, and that makes me sad.
See the archive for the "Abused and Used" series about the New York state group homes situation here: