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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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2012: NYS Care of the Disabled Updated

Update to “Looking at NYS Care of the Disabled”

This is an update to the prior SOS News Flash article introducing Danny Hakim, award-winning writer for the NY Times.  His recent (May 4th article) describes NYS’s response to the enormous criticism which has been leveled at it and documented in Mr. Hakim’s articles, criticism even from the federal government. The collection of references to Hakim’s articles posted  here  earlier can be found on this Blog under “Looking at NYS Care of the Disabled.”

This  article is also by  Hakim, and describes an attempt at some intervention and advocacy for, among others, those housed in NYS facilities under Commissioner Burke’s oversight.  One has to wonder why is it seems to always be just one more new gov’t agency that will solve all the ills?  Yet, who can deny that serious reform is needed? 

Burke’s programs and attitude show that there are at least 3 sides:  those in her care and their families, the communities from whom facilities are either foisted, withdrawn or both (like Middlesex), and the fat cats with teeth bared in Albany.  To date we have seen no responsiveness from Burke on either of the first two constituencies. The May 4th article is excerpted and highlighted below and can be found at:    https://omrmail/owa/redir.aspx?C=8643fca1270d48b2bd67fee7a6940935&

Please read the entire article for more detail.

Cuomo Seeking New Agency to Police Care of Disabled

ALBANY — “…. Cuomo, seeking to strengthen the state’s chronically weak response to abuse of disabled people who live in publicly financed homes, plans …  to propose creating an agency dedicated to investigating problems with the care of nearly one million vulnerable New Yorkers.”


Gov. Cuomo


“A new law enforcement and oversight agency would monitor those in state or private care who have developmental disabilities” ….The agency would employ a special prosecutor and would be granted subpoena power and authority to convene grand juries… The administration is also proposing tougher laws to punish those “who abuse people with developmental or other cognitive disabilities …”  (1)

… “the state had been transferring abusive employees from group home to group home, abuse cases were rarely referred to the police, and employees were hired with criminal records”.  (2)

… the agency would take over many administrative investigations currently performed by six state agencies including the OPWDD (3)

The new agency would have hundreds of employees and be “paid for in part with money taken from the budgets of the six existing agencies”.  (4)

…the nonprofit sector housing those vulnerable would be subject to the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). … The new state agency would provide legal staff to help the nonprofits respond … and “redact documents as needed”.  (5)

… an independent nonprofit organization would serve as an “outside advocate” … “could bring litigation against the state.” (6)

The federal Department of Health and Human Services … sharply criticized NY’s “care of developmentally disabled and mentally ill people, …has pushed the state to move in such a direction…” (7)

“… the agency would administer criminal background checks of those applying for employment at state agencies or nonprofit providers, consolidating what has been a porous and error-filled process” … “maintain a register of abusive employees at all state and private facilities to prevent workers fired by one provider from being hired by another.” (8)

Deciphering state-speak?

(1)    Care of those being displaced from theMonroeDevelopmentalCenteris being forced on the nonprofits, but with financial incentive.  Thus, after they pick who they want, little communities like Middlesex will be left with the worst populations as neighbors.

(2)    What exactly is the difference between transferring abusive employees from house to house, and transferring an unsuspecting population from one abuser to another?

(3)    Good….get the fox out of the henhouse.

(4)    In other words, the taxpayer is of course paying, again.

(5)    Or as necessary to defeat the purpose of FOIL, it sometimes seems.

(6)    Can we hope that potential plaintiffs might include the 12,000 developmentally disabled who are already waiting for beds and their families?  And can anyone really be an “outside advocate” when NYS is employing both?

(7)    Please consider writing to Washington, and the Dept. of Health and Human Services, to complain about the abuse of previous Middlesex occupants of the IRA and their families in the way they were transferred, and also to complain about the abuse of our community, so HHS can add those complaints to their own list.

(8)    Most shocking to think this wasn’t already happening and needs a new law!

 Additional Articles here and see also Prior Post re Danny Hakim (NY Times)

And NYS officials want MORE power?  There is something very wrong with that picture!

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