At New York Group Homes, Abuse Goes Unchecked

New York State is the operator of 2,000 group homes, which means that the state is responsible to care and protect about 10,000 residents with what The New York Daily News described as “severe physical and mental disabilities.” According to The New York Times, the states is not doing its job, wrote the Daily News, and <"">group home abuse is running rampant.

Described as appalling, conditions at these state-run homes were documented by The New Times and representative of the worst scandal Albany has seen in recent times, said the Daily News. For instance, a supervisor in an upstate home was discovered sexually abusing a disabled female patient. And, while semen was found on her body and the worker was arrested and charged with rape, there was no attempt to fire him, said the Daily News, which pointed out that the man had a record that included assaulting a co-worker.

The Times revealed that the worker was placed on administrative lead by the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, said the Daily News. He was then assigned to a different group home by the Office, but only after delays in the police investigation.

The Times also discovered that most group home caregivers have records that include recent charges of “serious neglect or abuse” (in the prior three years), but who were able to maintain their jobs even with prior multiple offenses. This makes the ongoing physical abuse debacle—with accounts of patients being “punched, pushed around, threatened, verbally abused, and sexually abused”—in which perpetrators were not apprehended, understandable. As a matter-of-fact, said the Daily News of “399 cases filed against 233 employees, New York State only attempted to dismiss 129 and only actually dismissed 30. Most were only received a suspension, fine, or reduced vacation time before being allowed to return to their jobs.

Now, officials at the state are blaming the Civil Service Employees Association, a public employee union, which acknowledges that it defends its members to the fullest extent of the law, which could be what is enabling some of these state employees to continue working with vulnerable populations, despite disciplinary charges, noted the Daily News.

While headlines are drawing attention to the blatant overcompensation in the government sector, versus continually decreasing salaries in the private sector, another issue is growing in severity in that collective bargaining appears to be insulating abusers who are injuring the disabled and routinely getting away with it. As the Daily News pointed out, this means that disabled people are being sacrificed to ensure state workers’ jobs remain intact.

Some blame the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, a group that sets caregiver salaries and does not screen applicants for “drug abuse or psychological fitness,” said the Daily News. The Office does not always appropriately document abuse, neglect, and other crimes to local law enforcement and is blamed for enabling abusive accused and charged of these crimes back on the job. The Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons With Disabilities is also being blamed for keeping quiet on abuse and bowing to politicians, said the Daily News, degrading what was once considered an effective watchdog group.

Abuse in group homes mirrors what we have long been reporting on regarding the growing and increasing tragedy of nursing home abuse in which beatings, sexual abuse, chemical restraints, and negligence—to name just some—have led to nursing home closures; probes; and lawsuits, both individual and class action. One recent class action verdict in a negligence case involved 32,000 patients at 22 facilities.

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