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NYS Group Home Abuse Under Scrutiny

By Dave Lucas


Albany, NY – New York Senator Roy McDonald and Assemblyman F lix Ortiz were joined at the State Capitol by members of their respective Mental Health Committees. The group was there to address recent accusations of abuse at group homes across the state. Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

Results of a year-long New York Times investigation published this week finds widespread problems in the more than 2,000 state-run group homes. The report asserts accusations of abuse, including instances of physical abuse, neglect, sexual assault and taunting, were often handled internally and that less than 5 percent were referred to law enforcement.

Courtney Burke is the newly appointed Commissioner for the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. Ortiz & McDonald announced plans to invite her to a joint Senate & Assembly Mental Health Committee meeting to discuss solutions, including more training and education for staff, better background checks, and improving the staff-to-patient ratio at group homes.

Michael Carey's 13-year old son Jonathan was severely abused in a private school when he was 11 - he died in 2007 after being restrained by a worker at the OD Heck developmental center. The death led to the passage of Jonathan's Law, which entitles parents and legal guardians to all child abuse investigation files and medical history records. Carey labels the current system "an absolute disaster."

Senator McDonald & Assemblyman Ortiz say they look forward to working with Governor Cuomo to change the current system... Ortiz is telling reporters that this is just the beginning of the process of weeding out undesirable officials and employees working with mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons.