Author Topic: Abuse in Group Homes for the Developmentally Disabled  (Read 4224 times)

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Offline blombrowski

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Abuse in Group Homes for the Developmentally Disabled
« on: March 13, 2011, 09:59:42 AM »
Not a "troulbed teen" issue per se, but speaks to the larger issue of institutional abuse.  As it relates to the TTI, mind you it was CQC that took the lead in the investigation of FFS.  What should ring true is the tolerance of behavior by paid staff towards recipients of care by management, union, and state oversight that would never be tolerated if a parent was found doing the same thing.

For the H.R. 911 critics, some ammunition for you as these programs have multiple layers of oversight on paper (State & CQC) but very little in reality.  Also note that these homes are largely located in rural communities ala the TTI. ... .html?_r=1
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Offline Ursus

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Re: Abuse in Group Homes for the Developmentally Disabled
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2011, 12:02:17 PM »
Quote from: "blombrowski"
Not a "troulbed teen" issue per se, but speaks to the larger issue of institutional abuse.
...As well as to the yet even larger issue of using certain types of institutions as a means of effecting "social control." Which *is*, ultimately, what the TTI is all about, imo. Both in the immediate sense, as well as in the so-called "preventative" sense of the term.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline Ursus

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At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2011, 08:18:00 PM »
For posterity's sake... (amongst other reasons):

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The New York Times

At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity

Published: March 12, 2011

A group home in Hudson Falls, N.Y., where a worker was said to have sexually assaulted a severely disabled woman. Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

Nearly 40 years after New York emptied its scandal-ridden warehouses for the developmentally disabled, the far-flung network of small group homes that replaced them operates with scant oversight and few consequences for employees who abuse the vulnerable population.

A New York Times investigation over the past year has found widespread problems in the more than 2,000 state-run homes. In hundreds of cases reviewed by The Times, employees who sexually abused, beat or taunted residents were rarely fired, even after repeated offenses, and in many cases, were simply transferred to other group homes run by the state.

And, despite a state law requiring that incidents in which a crime may have been committed be reported to law enforcement, such referrals are rare: State records show that of some 13,000 allegations of abuse in 2009 within state-operated and licensed homes, fewer than 5 percent were referred to law enforcement. The hundreds of files examined by The Times contained shocking examples of abuse of residents with conditions like Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy.

At a home upstate in Hudson Falls, two days before Christmas in 2006, an employee discovered her supervisor, Ricky W. Sousie, in the bedroom of a severely disabled, 54-year-old woman. Mr. Sousie, a stocky man with wispy hair, was standing between the woman's legs. His pants were around his ankles, his hand was on her knee and her diaper was pulled down.

The police were called, and semen was found on the victim. But the state did not seek to discipline Mr. Sousie. Instead, it transferred him to work at another home.

Roger Macomber, an employee at a group home in western New York, grabbed a woman in his care, threw her against a fence, and then flung her into a wall, according to a 2007 disciplinary report. He was then assigned to work at another group home.

Mr. Macomber, in fact, was transferred to different homes four times in the past decade for disciplinary reasons. It was not until last year, after he left a person unattended while he went into a store, that he was put on employment probation and eventually dismissed.

Over the past year, the state agency overseeing the homes, the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, has repeatedly declined to make its top officials available for interviews. A spokesman, Herm Hill, said that the vast majority of the agency's employees were conscientious, and that its hands were often tied because of the disciplinary and arbitration rules involving the workers' union. Mr. Hill emphasized that the agency takes allegations of abuse "very seriously."

But this month, after learning of The Times's findings, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo forced the resignations of Max E. Chmura, who led the agency, and Jane G. Lynch, the chief operating officer of the state's Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons With Disabilities, which is charged with protecting people with developmental disabilities.

"It is a basic function of state government to protect the most vulnerable among us," Mr. Cuomo said in a statement.

The Cuomo administration said it would undertake immediate and comprehensive review of the agencies and their practices. Asked about the low rate of referral of allegations of abuse to law enforcement — for example, only a quarter of sexual abuse cases were reported — officials said they were reviewing flaws in their record-keeping.

But they have acknowledged that it had been the practice of the agency to handle most accusations of abuse internally, despite the office's lack of forensic capacity. It does not use a crime lab or standard evidence-gathering techniques, and its investigators generally lack law enforcement training; sometimes, they are simply the supervisors of the accused employees.

The Times reviewed 399 disciplinary cases involving 233 state workers who were accused of one of seven serious offenses, including physical abuse and neglect, since 2008. In each of the cases examined, the agency had substantiated the charges, and the worker had been previously disciplined at least once.

In 25 percent of the cases involving physical, sexual or psychological abuse, the state employees were transferred to other homes.

The state initiated termination proceedings in 129 of the cases reviewed but succeeded in just 30 of them, in large part because the workers' union, the Civil Service Employees Association, aggressively resisted firings in almost every case. A few employees resigned, even though the state sought only suspensions.

In the remainder of the cases, employees accused of abuse — whether beating the disabled, using racial slurs or neglecting their care — either were suspended, were fined or had their vacation time reduced.

Most of the state-operated homes are in economically depressed areas upstate, and the jobs they provide — paying from $29,000 to nearly $62,000 with generous benefits — are sometimes among the few decent employment opportunities. The state has no educational requirements for the positions, which involve duties like administering drugs, driving residents to day activities, feeding them and preventing them from choking. Some of those hired have shown no previous interest or skill in caring for difficult populations.

"There are some people that don't belong there; I know some myself," said Robert Matuszewski of Buffalo, who was suspended and ordered to undergo psychiatric counseling for neglecting a resident and for referring to his female colleagues as "bitches." "They make me look like a schoolboy."

In some cases, not even criminal convictions are disqualifying. Henry Marrero, an employee at a group home in Utica, was convicted of beating a 99-year-old man while moonlighting at a nursing home — slapping the man three times in the face and once on the stomach. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was barred from participating in federally financed health care programs. But he kept his state job working with the developmentally disabled.

Henry Marrero, an employee at a Utica group home, was convicted of beating an elderly man at a nursing home. He kept his state job.

Former regulators, employees within the system and advocates have grown increasingly dismayed at what they say is the state's tolerance of abuse of the residents, whom the state refers to as "consumers" in its records.

"It's absolutely staggering and shocking," said Michael Carey, an outspoken voice for the developmentally disabled in New York. "There is massive systemic abuse and a failure to hold these individuals properly accountable."

Mr. Carey's autistic son, Jonathan, died in state care in 2007, in what was ruled a homicide at the hands of a state employee. His death led to the passage of Jonathan's Law, which required the state to begin disclosing incidents of abuse to parents.

What is especially troubling to advocates is not just that the group-home employees are often moved around, rather than fired, even after egregious incidents of abuse. It is also that, after they arrive at their new workplaces, they often abuse again.

While working at a group home in western New York, Dwayne K. Smith told a developmentally disabled woman in his care to dance "in a provocative manner," instructing her, according to state records, to "shake your booty and/or your boobs." Reports also said he told a man and woman in his care to kiss and embrace, which they did. Mr. Smith was then transferred to a nearby home, and not long after, he sexually harassed a co-worker, taunted two people in his care by repeatedly questioning their sexuality and served beer to another, state records showed.

Protection by the Union

The Civil Service Employees Association, one of the most powerful unions in Albany, makes no apologies for its vigorous defense of the group-home workers it represents.

But the union's approach — contesting just about every charge leveled at a worker — has contributed to a system in which firings of even the most abusive employees are rare. Most disciplinary measures represent a compromise between management and the union, often reached at the urging of an arbitrator chosen by both sides.

Ross D. Hanna, the director of contract administration for the association, likened the union's role to that of public defenders, saying it was required by state law to represent its members.

"If they're brought up on charges, we have an absolute duty to represent them," Mr. Hanna said. "That's our job."

He added: "When we know the person is guilty, we try to convince the person to get out of it by resigning. But if the person decides to go forward, we have to do our best job."

This disciplinary system has made it possible for employees like Mitchell T. Lovett, who worked in several different homes on Long Island, to rack up 10 offenses — including twice punching residents in the face — before losing his job, according to personnel records.

In 1988, three years after he was hired, Mr. Lovett was cited for neglect after a person in his care walked out of a group home at night; he had not conducted all of the required bed checks. Both were serious offenses for a population for which wandering off is a frequent problem.

The state sought an eight-week suspension, but after the union objected, Mr. Lovett was given a letter of reprimand.

Five years later, he received another letter of reprimand for 17 unauthorized absences. The next year, he was disciplined for a dozen unauthorized absences. In 1995, he was disciplined three times: he was late on 11 occasions, left his shift without authorization and failed to conduct any of the required checks of residents' beds during a night shift.

In 1999, the state sought another eight-week suspension after Mr. Lovett spent up to three and a half hours a shift making personal phone calls. In an interview, Mr. Lovett explained that he had been going through a divorce. He was docked a week's worth of accrued time and reimbursed the agency for his phone calls.

The state first tried to fire Mr. Lovett in 2000, when he was accused of physical abuse. Mr. Lovett said he caught a resident in the eye with his elbow while trying to subdue him.

The state characterized the matter differently. "You punched him in his left eye," a disciplinary report said.

The union contested the charge; Mr. Lovett was sent to another home, one of three transfers for disciplinary reasons during his career.

A few years later, the state tried to fire him again when his driver's license was suspended — making it impossible for him to drive the residents to their daytime programs. But the firing was overturned during arbitration, and he received yet another letter of reprimand.

By 2009, Mr. Lovett was assigned to a group home in Lynbrook. During one of his shifts, he and another employee were preparing to bring residents home from an outing. One resident, a 60-year-old man with "severe developmental disabilities," refused to leave, "throwing his arms and legs around," according to two employees from another home who were witnesses. In the process, he knocked off Mr. Lovett's glasses.

Mr. Lovett punched the man in the left eye. Two witnesses were said to be "shocked" and reported the episode to their supervisors.

In the interview, Mr. Lovett said he had thrown no punches. He said he had been rubbing the man's back to calm him, and his actions were misinterpreted in the commotion.

An arbitrator did not believe him, and Mr. Lovett's firing was upheld.

The union declined to discuss Mr. Lovett's case, saying it was against their policy to talk publicly about personnel matters. In a statement last week, the agency said that it "often faces significant obstacles" in "securing removal of some employees who may have committed abuses," and said that it would review its procedures. Mr. Lovett, 49, said he had been unfairly disciplined in some cases, and blamed stress and deficient training in others. He said that as a father of five, he almost always worked another job, including selling real estate or insurance.

"It's a lack of training," he said, "and they allow you to do certain things a certain way for a long time, then the rules change, and people get caught up in doing things that everybody's doing. So when in Rome, you do as the Romans, you know?"

"The job is really stressful," he added. "You have residents that you work with that are attacking you, they have hepatitis, they have things that can be transferred. They bite you, they hit you, they verbally abuse you. It's almost like working in a prison."

Few Consequences

One obstacle complicates any effort to take action against employees accused of abusing those in their care: The victims often cannot talk or have extreme cognitive impairment. Local law enforcement officials point to this to explain a lack of prosecution of cases.

But another factor seems to be at work. In many cases, the developmentally disabled do not have families actively involved in their lives, and, hence, no advocates to assure that state officials and the police take the mistreatment seriously.

The case involving Mr. Sousie is especially illustrative.

Ricky W. Sousie was put on probation after he had physically assaulted a co-worker in 1992. Derek Pruitt/Post-Star

Five years ago, Mr. Sousie, then 47, was working at the home in Hudson Falls, about 50 miles north of Albany. After a co-worker saw him alone and standing between the legs of the severely disabled woman, who was lying on her back, the police were alerted. The victim was taken to the hospital, where a rape kit was administered, and Mr. Sousie was placed on administrative leave.

The victim was "unable to communicate," the police report said, and had no relatives in regular contact.

The inquiry by the Hudson Falls police foundered. It took the department nearly 10 months to get a DNA report on the seminal fluid from the state police laboratory. But during that time, officers never obtained a specimen of Mr. Sousie's DNA for comparison.

The case then sat dormant for nearly a year and a half, during which time Mr. Sousie was allowed to return to work at a different home. The Washington County district attorney, Kevin C. Kortright, and the Hudson Falls police chief, Randy Diamond, said DNA technology was not sufficiently advanced in 2007 to make progress in the case, even though it was in widespread use at the time.

Finally, in 2009, an enterprising police detective took up the case, and a court order was obtained to get a DNA sample from Mr. Sousie. A case was brought against him in county court, including a felony sodomy charge, only to be dismissed after a judge ruled that the district attorney's office withheld evidence from the defense.

Mr. Sousie was convicted of endangering an incompetent person, a misdemeanor in Hudson Falls, and spent less than a year in jail. Law enforcement officials had trouble explaining the delays and errors in the case and blamed the victim's inability to communicate.

"Certainly, if you had somebody who could communicate better, it would be an easier investigation," Chief Diamond said. "That's the biggest hurdle in this case."

Mr. Kortright likened it to "the rape of a 3-year-old," adding, "It's a hard road without a confession by the defendant."

While the prosecution was plagued with problems, the state's response was even more puzzling.

After any episode that warrants discipline, the state is supposed to serve the employee involved a notice of discipline, a formal listing of accusations, but none was issued in this case, despite the presence of a witness and of physical evidence. The office did not conduct more than a perfunctory inquiry. Mr. Hill, the agency spokesman, declined to discuss the matter.

Mr. Sousie, in an interview, denied that he had been involved in a sexual assault.

"I was tucking in my shirt, and I got accused of raping a client, that's what happened," he said. When it was pointed out that his lawyer had, as a defense, argued that Mr. Sousie had been masturbating — hence the presence of physical evidence — he conceded, "That's the defense that we used, yes," but declined to elaborate.

The state had reacted more aggressively when Mr. Sousie, back in 1992, assaulted a co-worker. In that case, state records said, Mr. Sousie punched the other employee in the face. "Then you threw him onto the floor, and while straddling him, you yelled profanities at him."

Explaining what had happened, Mr. Sousie said, "My wife and a co-worker were getting to know each other at work, and that didn't sit too well."

The state moved to fire Mr. Sousie, but instead reached a settlement with the union. He was placed on probation for two years, had 80 hours of back pay withheld, lost six days of leave time and was ordered to undergo counseling. But he remained on the job.

If the Hudson Falls detective had not revived the sexual assault case and sent him to jail, of course, Mr. Sousie would, presumably, still be employed.

In the interview, Mr. Sousie, who was released from the county lockup last year, said he was now looking for work and looking forward to collecting his state pension.

"Today's another day, you know," he said. "I'm waiting till I get old enough to draw my retirement."

Waning Oversight

In 1972, the Willowbrook scandal brought nationwide attention to the conditions of the developmentally disabled in state care. While Willowbrook had long been troubled — Senator Robert F. Kennedy called it a "snake pit" in 1965 — it was footage by Geraldo Rivera, then a young television reporter, that resonated.

The images of disabled children were searing. "Untended, some smeared with their own feces, many of the children were unclothed and all were simply left to sit in the ward all day," The Times wrote at the time. "The only sound picked up by the technicians was something of an eerie communal wail."

Prodded by the federal courts, Gov. Hugh L. Carey began a huge overhaul of the state's system of care, and turned to Clarence Sundram, a young lawyer, to help lead the way. Mr. Sundram, a 28-year-old immigrant from India, helped conceive of the Commission on Quality of Care, which would provide the first independent oversight of how people with developmental disabilities were treated.

For two decades, Clarence Sundram ran the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons With Disabilities, taking on during his tenure broad problems in the treatment of the developmentally disabled. Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

"We really had no capacity to investigate," Mr. Sundram said in an interview. Existing investigative agencies, he added, "didn't particularly understand the mental health system, so they tended to write these very sensationalist reports that weren't particularly helpful in terms of, how do you fix this problem."

Mr. Sundram ran the commission for two decades, bringing an outspokenness and assertiveness to the new agency.

He was sometimes confrontational and made frequent use of the bully pulpit, demanding that the news media pay attention to this population. Mr. Sundram took on broad problems, like the use of physical restraint and seclusion, and the need to report serious episodes to law enforcement.

His approach did not always sit well with commissioners at the state's Office of Mental Health and the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, who felt Mr. Sundram was always inviting more scrutiny of their problems.

But there is no doubt that after Mr. Sundram left in 1998, the attention he brought to the issue all but disappeared and the agency's public profile collapsed.

These days, the commission is more likely to play down allegations of abuse than to root them out. And its resources are limited: in 2009, it investigated less than two percent of allegations of abuse or neglect of the disabled by employees.

The commission also appears to operate under a media blackout: Jane G. Lynch never spoke to a reporter during her nearly three-year tenure, her staff members said, and declined to comment for this article.

When you stop speaking out publicly, Mr. Sundram said, "nobody has any idea what the hell you are doing." Given the competing demands for attention, he said, the public will simply move on.

Governor Cuomo has asked Mr. Sundram to return to Albany to help overhaul the agency.

A Variety of Offenses

The hundreds of files examined by The Times provided a disturbing inventory of offenses committed by employees — few of which ever got them fired.

Kenyetta Williams, an employee at a group home on Long Island, left a resident "soiled with feces and urine and suffering from a broken leg" on her bedroom floor for more than an hour, the records stated. Ms. Williams was suspended. In a brief interview last week, she said she was taking care of too many residents and covering for an absent co-worker at the time.

It was her 13th disciplinary write-up since 1994. Another employee, in the Finger Lakes region, was fined $375 after allowing a person in her care to sit in a van in her own feces for five and a half hours.

In 2009, the state recommended firing Charles Weimer, an employee in western New York who told a resident, "Why don't you get a Brillo pad and scrape the black off you?" Mr. Weimer, who had previously been written up for abuse, sleeping on duty, medication errors and neglect, was reassigned, and was only later fired for violating his probation.

Michelle Penharlow, another employee in western New York, "picked up a knife" and pointed the blade and shook it at a resident, according to a 2008 discipline report, and kicked a resident "in or about the buttocks." The state called for her firing, but she was suspended and transferred to another home instead. The next year, after being written up for 10 different incidents of verbal abuse, neglect and mistreatment, she was fired.

A 2008 discipline report said Michelle Penharlow “picked up a knife” and shook it at a resident. The state called for her firing. She was instead suspended and transferred.

Because the more than 2,000 state-run group homes are scattered in communities statewide, little supervision is provided on-site, and it is often up to staff members to turn in their colleagues when one misbehaves. Typically, four to eight developmentally disabled residents live together in what are known as Individual Residential Alternatives; they are sometimes cared for by as few as two employees.

There is no question the jobs are stressful: Some residents can be violent themselves, and others see the world as a small child does.

Some of the employees disciplined for abuse blame their co-workers for their troubles.

Roger Macomber, the employee in western New York, faced charges including flinging a disabled woman across a room into a wall and destroying notes describing unexplained bruises on a person in his care.

He said that he had been turned in by a trainee who did not understand that aggressive residents could not be handled with kid gloves. He said he argued with the trainee before she made her accusations: "I called her a liar, I called her paranoid, I called her stupid," Mr. Macomber said. "Because of that, she brought up all these different incidents that she had seen."

A Whistle-Blower Thwarted

Despite the agency's tendency to return offending employees to work, there is one disciplinary matter it has taken seriously — punishing a whistle-blower named Jeffrey Monsour.

Jeffrey Monsour, a developmental aide, spoke out against inconsistencies he found in records regarding the disciplining of group-home workers. The matter was referred back to his superiors. Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

Mr. Monsour, a 50-year-old from upstate New York, went to work for the agency in 1999, after a career helping to run family restaurants ended with his father's retirement. He was partly inspired by his family's experience caring for his aunt, who had Down syndrome.

Mr. Monsour found his work as a developmental aide — the agency's primary caretaker position — rewarding, though it was not without challenges. In 2004, he was asked to conduct a fire drill at a group home in Glens Falls when a young man with Down syndrome refused to evacuate.

"He sat on the floor and wouldn't leave," Mr. Monsour recalled. "So I wrote up that he could not evacuate."

He was told by regional managers to conduct another drill. Again, the resident refused to leave, and became upset when Mr. Monsour tried to help. Supervisors arranged a third drill using another escape route, but the resident would only edge down the stairs on his bottom, blocking the exit for everyone else.

"After that point, the management there was ruthless to me," Mr. Monsour said. "They were mad I brought the issue up and just didn't sign the slip and say he could get out in two minutes and 30 seconds like everybody else, or three minutes. You know, he couldn't get out — what do you want me to do?"

Mr. Monsour believes the episode cost him a promotion, but he was undeterred and did something unusual. He filed a Freedom of Information Law request, seeking records of fire drills, and later confronted Mr. Chmura — then a top deputy — with records suggesting that drills were being falsified.

In some cases, disabled clients were said to have evacuated from their beds at night in less than three minutes, a breakneck pace a veteran worker like Mr. Monsour found unlikely.

In 2009, when a fire at a home in the Adirondacks killed four residents, an investigation showed that the home's fire drill reports were "substantially inaccurate," and "contained serious irregularities which called into question the veracity of the drills."

Mr. Monsour e-mailed Mr. Chmura, chiding him that "my concerns fell on deaf ears." Mr. Chmura responded, assuring Mr. Monsour that the agency reviewed his claims.

Mr. Monsour kept sending out Freedom of Information Law requests, obtaining records showing, among other reports, long absences from work for top officials in the Albany area and stark inconsistencies in the discipline of workers. He was shocked to see some workers had returned to work after physical abuse.

He was also increasingly uncomfortable with what he saw as his union's complicity and ran an unsuccessful campaign for president of his local in 2009.

The Civil Service Employees Association "is right there in bed with them," he said, adding, "when you're getting interrogated, they know there was just a case settled where somebody did something severe, and they got a mild penalty, and they're not telling you this."

As Mr. Monsour's information-seeking continued, the agency began frequently bringing him in for questioning. In one evaluation, he was called "not a team player" because he called 911 after a resident wandered off, running through traffic. The agency later redacted the reference from his evaluation.

In another episode, supervisors at the agency filed a special disciplinary report used to document workplace violence, saying Mr. Monsour became overly upset when informed of a disciplinary action against him. The report was rejected as insufficient by another agency official.

In 2007, Mr. Monsour was interrogated at length after he allowed a resident, who was being visited by his mother, to share some of the eggplant parmesan served to him by the staff at the group home with her.

The interrogation was taped by agency officials and by Mr. Monsour, but agency officials later told him in writing that he could not release the tape to the media. They sent Mr. Monsour a second letter warning that he could not even release a transcript redacted to protect patient confidentiality.

Mr. Monsour believes a large part of the problem is that supervisors do not spend enough time in homes beyond weekday work hours, underscoring the challenge in managing such a sprawling network of residences.

"You can't manage all these group homes from a telephone," he said, adding, "there are a lot of good developmental aides who are put in bad situations by management."

Mr. Monsour wrote to Gov. David A. Paterson's office last year and the attorney general's office, requesting an investigation of the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. Along with his letter, Mr. Monsour included the disciplinary files he had obtained through Freedom of Information Law requests. The governor's office never responded, and the attorney general's office, then run by Mr. Cuomo, referred the matter back to Mr. Monsour's superiors.

"I didn't even get a call from an investigator," he said, adding, "I was thrown under the bus."

Mr. Monsour's efforts appear to have had little effect on the culture inside the agency.

Employees across the capital region, the area where Mr. Monsour works, were recently warned to keep quiet about episodes inside the group homes. One handout distributed by management bluntly directed employees not to mention reports of abuse in daily progress notes kept on residents. Doing so, the handout warned, could make them subject to subpoena.

"DON'T report in your notes that an Incident Report was filled out," the instructions said, adding: "IF IT ISN'T DOCUMENTED, IT WASN'T DONE."

Russ Buettner and Alain Delaquérière contributed reporting.

If you have information about abuse occurring in homes for the mentally disabled that you would like to share with The Times, e-mail

A version of this article appeared in print on March 13, 2011, on page A1 of the New York edition.

© 2011 The New York Times Company
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Offline Froderik

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Re: Abuse in Group Homes for the Developmentally Disabled
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2011, 11:57:57 AM »
Michelle Penharlow looks like a complete psycho!  :clown:
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Offline seamus

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Re: Abuse in Group Homes for the Developmentally Disabled
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2011, 03:22:02 PM »
I wonder if she's single :roflmao:
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
It\'d be sad if it wernt so funny,It\'d be funny if it wernt so sad

Offline Froderik

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Re: Abuse in Group Homes for the Developmentally Disabled
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2011, 11:16:02 AM »
Quote from: "The gatekeeper"
Michelle Penharlow

What was her involvement in MK-ULTRA?   ::OMG::

I don't know, Bones...what was her involvement in MK-ULTRA?

Do tell!  ???
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Offline Ursus

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Comments: "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" #s 1-25
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2011, 01:47:02 AM »
Some amazing comments left for the above article, "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" (by Danny Hakim; March 12, 2011; The New York Times), #s 1-25:

1. J · Pleasantville · March 13th, 2011 12:09 am
    I could speak for myself in a similar setting, that is, I was not so severely disabled that I had lost the power of speech. But I was not free to do so, upon pain of further staff abuse. For politely asking to know what my rights were, a staff member slammed a heavy door closed on my arm. As I looked up at him in horror and alarm, he smiled, then slammed the door shut on my arm again.

    For crying hunched over while standing, I was dragged down a hallway (I knew I had better not show any resistance, and so went limp), male and female staff members shoved me face down, ripped down my pants, and forced a needle into me.

    One morning, I woke to see saw a staff member who regularly flew into rages for no reason, with a bandaged hand. A fellow "inmate," who was always quiet and reserved, now had a severely and newly bruised face.

    On the outside, I was laughed at in a "counseling" program for daring to want to better myself by learning another language.

    When I was too upset to work after surviving such experiences, I decided to volunteer to help people such as myself. Before I could start, I had to go to an staff orientation session first, with people who, unlike me, were being paid to "care for" people such as myself. In this session, the newly hired staff members sneered at and demeaned the people they had previously encountered and would again encounter - more accurately, again abuse - in their "work," including people in group homes. And the trainers did not discourage such sneering.

    The best punishment? These abusers should be locked up as "consumers" and "cared for" by wonderful people such as themselves.

    I am starting to shake and I am even scared to post this. This is something I will never get over. And yet I feel so very blessed, so very lucky, that I am able to sit here and type this right now - while others still are trapped living the horror that I somehow have survived.

    I can change my clothes without someone opening the door. I can get up at night without someone - a staff member - repeatedly trying to shove me to the floor.

    I just pray that more of these stories are written, and no excuses are accepted, such as the staff member saying they are working with "difficult populations."

    That's hooey.

    As far as people with developmental disabilities, isn't that the point? How dare they expect people with limited physical or mental abilities to be easy to help, that is, easy to "control"?

    And even in the case of those called "mentally ill," statistics in the United States and Britain show that those diagnosed as mentally ill are violent at no greater a rate than the rest of the population. And yet those so diagnosed are actually subjected to violence at a greater rate than the rest of the population. Which would seem to say, the mentally ill are actually less inclined to be violent than the rest of the population, because despite having more "provocation," so-called lunatics such as myself evidently have more Gandhi-like self-restraint than the rest of society.
2. Holly · Golden, Co · March 13th, 2011 12:09 am
    Why should anyone be surprised at abuse of people by organizations funded by the government? Shouldn't it be considered normal behavior of these types of organizations?
    The issue is, why fund them?
3. V. Ogle · LA · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    I had several jobs where I was honored to work with people who experienced cognitive and behavioral differences. I assure you, most of their difficulties were CAUSED by idiotic employees who had no idea how to treat people in a respectful manner. When you encourage self-direction and self-determination, so-called behavioral issues disappear.

    I have worked in several states in large institutions, community homes, sheltered workshops, small group homes and in human services investigating abuse/neglect allegations. Personally, I found more abuse in the smaller group homes that had fewer people supervising their operation. New Jersey dumped their formerly institutionalized into homes and "forgot" to get their medicaid covered services set up. Abuse. Alabama has let their institutions return to weeds in order to reduce the budget and shift money. Mississippi has reinvented the "group home" to include mini institutions that congregate 20 clients in two group homes conveniently located within close proximity. Every state deliberately circumvents the policies. To what gain?

    There were reports of abuse in all of these settings. Those reports included people I thought had their best interests in mind, however, were clueless about civil rights and basic human dignity. I saw people threatened with raised hands. I saw them ignored. I was taught in one setting about restraints and use of their "Quiet Room."

    Maybe I am sensitive? I am offended when a professional or parent uses the phrase, "He is Downs," in reference to someone who has the diagnosis of Down Syndrome. I think People First Language is essential to the understanding that we are human beings experiencing a variety of disabilities or diseases.

    If the parents and families still consider their family members' sole identity to be a diagnosis; there is no way to get professionals, institutions and lawmakers to reconsider accepted treatment and grasp our humanity, first.
4. CJE · New York · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    After reading this article, I find myself taking on a subject that is a sore point with me regarding the way I, as a disabled person, have been treated over the past 20 years. I am someone who has a perfect driving record, no arrests, and perfect credit, a good education, I am a nonsmoker, I do not drink, and I am drug free; Yet, I have been subjected to outrageous abuses or accusations, by those in public service and the helping professions. Their remarks towards me and others (in my presence )have been scathing.
    Disabled people ,whether mentally ill or physically handicapped are treated like lab animals. Many of us are considered disposable by members in the community and in our own families.
    Let's call it the way it really is, many people consider us useless, because the majority of us don't work. Most of us never get any credit for our abilities or the chance to use them.
    We are the real victims and/or survivors of prejudice in this society. With no real advocacy or like group to align ourselves, we are cast off, like the lone wolf.
    If you asked people around this country about the way the disabled have been treated, many would find no fault with their abusers. They would most likely put the blame on the handicapped or say we are over -reacting.. That is the state of America's moral compass, and compassion in this age.
5. Paula C. · Montana · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    My first job out of college in New York State was at a private group home, one that was supposed to be one of the best. It was 1979 and taking this kind of work after the revelations earlier in the decade had a certain pride to it. Within the year the home was closed after serious allegations about sexual abuse by the owner. I never saw anything I thought was suspicious. I was deposed by investigators but do not believe I added or detracted anything to either side. The allegations were made by an angry ex-employee. To this day I have no idea what really happened. All these many years later, 30 years, I am still bothered by how it all happened. I am older and wiser but nothing I saw during 9 months of employment convinces me there was abuse. Years of managing employees have taught me that angry ex-employees can be very dangerous. If I have a point here, its that these kinds of problems have existed for as long as the homes have. I have not worked in that field for many years but it is nearly impossible to get rid of the sickening feeling that someone may have been abused or that someone was falsely accused and that both were failed by the same system.
6. Know It All · Brooklyn, NY · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    Shocking and appalling. As someone with a family member in such a facility, I know that the abuse described is not representative, but it is still unacceptable. Yes, residents in these homes can be difficult. That is why they should have the level of care being paid for and deserve.

    I will point out how galling that this egregious side of public unions is not addressed during the changes being proposed in Wisconsin and other states. The Civil Service Employees Assoc., like so many other public unions, sees protection of dues paying members and following outdated civil service rules as their first priority. With public unions blocking changes, how can our government be expected to manage programs and deliver effective services? To use a bad but apt analogy - unchecked public unions are akin to the patients running the asylum.
7. Maxomus · New York · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    While I commend the Times for its excellent reportage on this scandal, my inward reaction is outrage and resentment toward the governing agency that enables marginally sane people to be hired into these positions of responsibility for disabled folks. It seems that the standards are not too low—but that there are none whatsoever—for creating strict hiring guidelines, psychological testing, educational requirements (at least an equivalency diploma) and a stable work history, issues that even a person applying for a cashier job would have to be confronted with.

    I feel that the governor's swift intervention is required in this matter, to put an immediate end to these atrocities and create a new governing board for making radical changes in hiring practices, union protection be hanged. These are precious lives that we are dealing with, not job rights for people with abusive personalities.
8. TC · DC · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    As a society we have never valued the elderly or the mentally and physically disabled. Their existence is measured as collateral and not essential in our progress. Often their "caretakers" are those that are "not quite right" themselves or have never fit into the mainstream of society and are only this very job away from from finding themselves part of this forgotten or ignored caste. New York is not unique at all in this regard. The care of these people who are most likely indigent or come from modest means is administered to a large degree in secrecy and public transparency. Many are from families who are relieved to rid of their burden so there is no outside oversight except perhaps people in social work. There are many caregivers who are compassionate and provide a quality of life to their patients but they are outnumbered and overwhelmed. It comes down to where our states want to spend our money and that decision is based entirely upon return. What return do we get on providing quality health, rehabilitative, training to the old and disabled?
9. Manny · New York, N.Y. · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    A detective in a small town police force is needed to revive a case, the State Attorney General is not fully invested, unions stand with employees that have demonstrated long-term patterns of abuse.

    I understand the right to local jurisdiction in investigating allegations such as that in Hudson Falls, but can't we do better in terms of State leadership in creating resources to investigate? The unions view their role as defending their members to the last breath: how about they participate in taking out the garbage? God forbid they have the foresight to change their game...even if it is only to prove to a disillusioned electorate that they are not the enemy and want to be part of the solution.

    We can take a lot of pride as a society that we care for the disabled as we do (the author could have given us some context in this regard), but there is work to be done. Vigilance and cooperation must be a binding principle for all stakeholders participating in the system in order for the public to have confidence in it.
10. Ava · Canada · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    Wonder if all the people who condemned the Catholic Church and their turning in some cases a blind eye to priest abuse of children 40 years ago, and used those abuses as pretext to condemn the whole Catholic faith are as outraged when government institutions who use our tax dollars to protect and serve vulnerable citizenry and instead oversea the mental, physical or sexual abuse of them while the bureaucrats ignore, hide or demand few consequences from these abusers.

    Any agency the government overseas and operates that effects the weak, young or vulnerable, from schools ( New York state alone had 2500 compliments of teachers abusing physically or sexually students) old age homes, homes for the mentally ill there are thousands of instances of abuse by those in charge with few consequences and even fewer outrage by the citizenry, especially from those that expect perfection from every other institution other then the state.
11. Walton Truue · Pittsburgh, PA · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    It's called "privatization" where we allow profit-seekers to provide services, not professional civil servants. And then they hire at the lowest wage they can pay and pocket the rest. How can we expect them to get good, highly-motivated, educated workers? Then the right-wing says cut taxes, eliminate regulations, and reduce government. You get what you pay for!

    If we decry these conditions, we must be willing to pay civil servants at least equal to their counterparts in the private sector (now 18% less), for regulations to be enforced, and salaries and benefits that will attract the best and brightest. Yup!
12. crk · erehwon · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    My personal experience is that the people hired as caregivers are uneducated and have no special training to care for the disabled. They are paid minimum wage or less, as independent contractors instead of employees, which also cheats the state out of unemployment insurance and workers' compensation insurance. My line of work allows me to meet many group home residents and employees. I would never consider a group home as an alternative for my loved one.
13. Brooklyn · New York City · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    Being funded by the government is irrelevant. To say differently demonstrates ignorance. All such public and private charity programs are funded by the government. Many of those government funded charities provide excellent care and properly discipline their union employees. This is a story of an organization being run by incompetents hired on "merit," small town incompetent law enforcement that only knows how to issue speeding tickets and dealing competent labor representation.
14. Mr.Thomas · Arizona · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    Thank you Highlight for that frightful, but thoughtful post. To Lisa I say generalizations are not helpful. Poorly supervised and/or screened hires in developmentally disabled care facilities public and private are an issue that needs more attention, but regardless of the status of public or private, where the funding comes from, I have witnessed the good and bad in all. I received my degrees in social services from SUNY, and have been employed caring for developmentally disabled adults in New York and Arizona in both county and private facilities. There are many decent people working within the field, and the reports of abuse of this vulnerable clientele make my blood boil.
15. Katherine in PA · Philadelphia, PA · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    This is excellent ammunition for those who are determined to get rid of public employees' unions. There should be zero sympathy or tolerance for any of the low-life employees described in this article. They should all be locked away, not protected or entrusted with the care of our most vulnerable citizens. When unions protect monsters such as the ones described here - or incompetent teachers, or road workers who stand around, or any other public employee who is incompetent or immoral - they are digging their own graves. The taxpayers who pay their salaries will no longer tolerate this sort of abomination! And, by the way, Ross Hanna should be dragged behind a bus!
16. Adia Dennis · Alabama · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    Considering Lisa's remark at # 2: it doesn't matter much whether the organization is being funded by the government or not. Certainly in Alabama's private companies doing the same kind of work there is no problem to fire a worker, and they are paid much less than in NY; no benefits. The turnover is gigantic; people get trained and many soon get fired or just quit. Workers are encouraged to report on each other inside the company; however, the principle of "don't ask, don't tell" remains. The whistle-blower's situation described here is very probable.
17. DLH · Brooksville, ME · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    I know that union agreements ensuring due process for employees sometimes preclude even reasonable corrective action by management. But when an employee physically assaults a client under their care, the appropriate response of management is to call the police, press charges & then call all the local newspapers, advising the union of actions taken.

    Retired MR Administrator
18. David Chowes · New York City · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    President Kennedy with all good intentions began the community mental health initiative so as to end the mistreatment patients were routinely forced into poorly run state psychiatic hospitals. (Often for life.)

    JFK's plan sounded good -- but, 50 years as most of the state hospitals closed, the majority of patients have to indure far worse torture in these so-called 'state-run' homes... But even worse, most end up in prisons lacking any coping skills to deal with other prisoners and the staff.

    Just awful. We all know about this disgrace and each time we read another article... Well, nothing is done.
19. Jennifer · New York · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    Next, maybe the NY Times can write about guardianship abuses in NY State. Elderly neighbors on my block in Brooklyn, living in rent stabilized housing, were removed from their home by an agency the courts had appointed as "guardian" for the woman (she had a slight mental disability). During the months while this process went through the courts the guardian collected all the woman's pension and disability, and paid no rent to the landlord. The guardian then pocketed a good share of the settlement paid by the landlord for the departure of the couple from the rent stabilized housing. There were periods when the guardian provided no support or housing whatsoever (even while holding all assets of their ward). The guardian at one point tried to get the city of NY to shelter the woman through the homeless shelter system (at no cost to the guardian). In my experience, newspapers rarely show the courage to write about these kinds of abuses. I wonder why the paper decided to write this article now? Whatever the reason for exposing it now, thank goodness it is exposed, and let the work begin to make the needed changes. The sad truth is the weak and vulnerable are victimized not only by those crude individuals who directly assault them (or steal their assets). They are also victimized by those in power who stand by silently thereby allowing the crimes to continue.
20. Green Man's view · Ronkonkoma N.Y. · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    It is unconscionable that these people State employees protected by the C.S.E.A. union; Civil Service Employees Association.
    Are allowed to work caring for developmentally disabled people without a minimum of a background check that includes fingerprinting state and federal background checks using F.B.I. felony convictions.
    If this isn't required the future may have your loved one abused by criminals like this.
21. Dirk · Memphis, TN · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    someone should really look into the group homes run by, or paid by, NYS' OMH where people suffering with severe psychiatric disorders are being dumped after hospital stays because they are hard to place in their local communities in the time allowed for discharges. These homes, and many related state day-treatment programs, are supposed to be temporary transitional programs but people are often warehoused in them for years with no improvement and no way out.
22. HD · New York · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    Lisa #2
    This is the role of government in our society. The private sector does not contribute to this population except to exploit them and profit from their infirmity. Government needs to do a better job, not give up and cut these people loose.
23. anne · New York City · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    The only way to keep these atrocities from occurring is to make sure each residence has licensed professionals on staff and in supervisory positions. If a professional loses his or her license, that person cannot work in the field; it's considered a crime. A non-professional (sometimes referred to as a "para-professional") can just get another job. That's why licensing was developed in the first place. If you hire people with only a h.s. diploma and no skills, you're going to get the bottom of the barrel more often than not.
24. Willrobm · warwick, ny · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    The issue is accountability... If Gov. Cuomo cannot bring the law to bear on these pathetic criminals then perhaps they need to be dealt with in a different manner... Perhaps there is a force available to make examples of these predators, after all there names and addresses are available to the public. It would not be the first time in history when citizens stood up for fellow citizens unable to defend themselves... These predators can and will be dealt with and they will rue the day because the law will not come to their defense...
25. nina · San Francisco · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    Congratulations on this excellent reporting. I hope this harrowing story helps create some change. It's horrifying that our society, which is dripping in wealth for some, can't protect its vulnerable people.

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Offline Ursus

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Comments: "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" #s 26-50
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2011, 11:40:19 PM »
More comments left for the above article, "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" (by Danny Hakim; March 12, 2011; The New York Times), #s 26-50:

26. Judyg · nyc · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    the most vulnerable among us subjected to abuse by criminals. speaks well for us as a society along with so many other bitter abuses we are all subjected to every day now.
    let us pray we are at rock bottom. and, there's no place to go but up.
27. Ann · Denver · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    New York could pass legislation to resolve this problem. List the violations that will automatically be cause for dismissal. Congress did this in 1998 to curb abuses at the IRS. The union would have no say in the matter if termination was required by statute.
28. M. Cherau · Vignolles, France · March 13th, 2011 9:06 am
    I've never understood why closing state institutions and putting a fragile population out on the street or in a myriad of hard-to-oversee group homes was considered a good idea. The problem with the large institutions wasn't that they were large, it was that they were badly run and badly staffed. That was what needed fixing and, as the article makes clear, still does. It's a lot easier (and, I would assume cheaper) for the government, if it really cares about protecting the vulnerable, to oversee a limited number of large state residential institutions than numerous scattered group homes or people living dangerously on the streets.
29. Malachi · Sydney · March 13th, 2011 9:07 am
    I am appalled. This is disgusting individual and organizational behavior. I am usually pro union but the union should be ashamed of the abuse that they are complicit in. And Gov. Cuomo needs to find a way to shine a light on the standards that exist in these homes that are funded by the taxpayers. I work with families who have young children with special needs and this story underlines their biggest fears. This is absolutely unacceptable and unnecessary. There are plenty of loving and caring professionals or support workers who would happily fill these positions. Fire those who are unprofessional in their behavior. Prosecute those who are abusive. Please get good people into those positions and provide proper training and oversight.
30. Anne · NYC · March 13th, 2011 9:07 am
    This is tragic - the abuse of vulnerable people.

    But it is also a reminder of some of the more unfortunate values of American society....

    We Americans seem not to care about the vulnerable and needy. We do not want to spend the money needed to make sure that facilities, staff and overall care is decent and safe. We also refuse to acknowledge that these are terrible and stressful jobs (would any of us want our children to be working as aides if they had other choices?)and we refuse to structure these jobs to help ensure that staff are responsible, honest and decent.

    We only seem to care that Wall Street and millionaires get to keep their oversized incomes!
31. SA · Massachusetts · March 13th, 2011 9:07 am
    A very important story, thank you. Let's hope that the result of this article is careful scrutiny of the management of these programs and a better recognition of the importance of doing these jobs well, not a knee-jerk response to find a few scape-goats or de-fund the programs.

    One point of clarification is in order: It was striking to me that some of the most egregious abusers you described were managers; but that the union defense of accused abusers was cited as the prime barrier to adequate discipline. In most states, unions do not represent management, and it would seem that the union's role would be to support the line workers who reported their managers, and who likely risked discipline to do so. If in New York unions also represent management, you have a separate problem.
32. March 13th, 2011 9:07 am
    This comment has been removed. Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments FAQ.[/list]
    33. divad · washingtondc · March 13th, 2011 9:07 am
      More evidence, as if any is really needed, that homo sapiens as a species can learn much from dogs and cats.
    34. Raymond · BKLYN · March 13th, 2011 9:07 am
      This is all very reminiscent of the behavior of clerical staff at Roman Catholic "orphanages" in the US, Ireland, UK, Canada, Australia & elsewhere, the behavior in homes for the "wayward" in Ireland even worse. These badly managed institutions attract sadistic, power-abusing personalities often incapable of finding other work.
    35. joyce simon · new york · March 13th, 2011 9:07 am
      I guess some things never change. Interesting... how they have no more interest in a seasoned employee like me. I blew the whistle on abuse many years ago; I even got a commendation.
    36. nezumi · California · March 13th, 2011 9:07 am
      How are these group homes an improvement over the old mental hospitals that Reagan closed? The treatment sounds about the same.
    37. GN · Weston, CT · March 13th, 2011 9:07 am
      Lisa, at #2, are you aware of any other people or groups funding such homes? If not where should they grow? Taking shots at the government is easy, finding solutions is tough. This, by the way, is in no way justifying the behavior documented. They should all go to jail.
    38. March 13th, 2011 9:07 am
      This comment has been removed. Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments FAQ.[/list]
      39. as · new york · March 13th, 2011 11:31 am
        As a professional, an owner of a group home in another state, and a parent of severely disabled children, I have to say the article is quite accurate and applies nationwide. It is a national scandal. The problem that I see is that this is the result of an unholy alliance between greedy attorneys, legislators that see budget pressures, naive and ignorant parents who cannot see reality and overall fuzzy thinking. The old system was broken down by lawsuits, budget stress and the fuzzy thinking that community based facilities could improve the outcome for the the severely disabled. What mothers of these affected patients do not understand, and they are the ones that seem to be heard in the press and at the state capitals, is that there is a difference between a severely retarded patient with minimal cognitive skills and a mildly impaired patient that could benefit from a communty environment. The mothers blame the institutions, not genetics or mother nature, for the sad state of their offspring. The severely disabled do not know what is going on. The notion that community placement makes any sense at all is stupid. The system was much better off when there were large institutions with economies of scale, unified management, state support and control. The work is extremely hard, mentally stressful and depressing. I would consider the work at least three times as tough as being a police officer, for example and I went through the police academy. At least in the big institution era people were state employees with benefits etc. In my state the workers now get a little over minimum wage with no benefits because of community sourcing. McDonalds is a step up for them. Willowbrook was bad but it could have been repaired. Managing hundreds or thousands of small group homes just cannot be done by any state authority. The severe ones are simply going to be warehoused somewhere. Now they are shipped to various "activities" during the day, or "school" where they simply vegetate and drool. The daycare people send their bills to the state. The unscrupulous doctors get hold of the Medicaid numbers and run every test known to man and kick back cash to the facilities. The schools suffer because so much money has to be put into special ed. My view after watching this disaster of community basing unfold over 40 years is that the severe cases need to be in large state institutions with strong, rational management. Someone has to make tough decisions. Of course pictures of these unfortunate individuals make dramatic news but these shocking pictures are often more what nature wrought as opposed to being caused by where they are living.
      40. Hasang · California · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        Thank you NYTimes for bringing this horrible issue to the light.
      41. charles almon · brooklyn NYC · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        These employees hate their jobs, hate the fact that they have no skills for better jobs, feel life has handed THEM a bad hand, and vent on these consumers.
      42. slenderlady · New York · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        Oh, yeah. There's neglect and abuse with these homes. I was a "resident" among them: Bad news. Two people died as a result of neglect in the Multi-County Community Development "program" of Ulster County, NY. Basically, the case workers don't have any training in Psychology or similar fields: they just need a valid driver's license to get the job working with the "population": it's really bad news, really bad.
      43. Christina · Summerland, CA · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        Much thanks to old Ronald Reagan for making all of those promises that he never, ever intended on keeping-- such as those, um, "community health centers" that were supposed to magically spring up after he closed all the homes and the hospitals. And many years later, here we are... In reality, for those of you who somehow cannot see, all of those less fortunate souls, the ones that you all claim to care so much about, they all are left languishing and suffering eternally in prisons, HOMELESS, on and off the STREET. Thanks a lot, you people; I do hope indeed that there is, ultimately, a very special place for your sorts...
      44. ShowMe · Missouri · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        I read elsewhere in the NY Times that the wealthy are the happiest people. Certainly, the people in these group homes are not happy to be abused. What does this say about what is written in the hearts of the people in power in our society?
      45. Zika · ny · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        Fire everyone involved in abusement.
        Fire everyone who keep abusers working.
        Clean the mess ,please.
      46. Manic Drummer · Madison, WI · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        It's one of humanity's greatest sins. And there will be a hefty price for it. The Lord does not slack on punishment for those who are cruel to the most vulnerable members of society. Change your ways, or else it's gonna hurt!
      47. walter Bally · vermont · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        Welcome to Obama's Americccpa. This is what liberals do, violence.
      48. N.R. · Coastal Mid-Atlantic · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        First and foremost, thank you to the NYT's for highlighting this deeply disturbing trend, occurring not only in NY, but across the entire nation in our group homes, which, coincidently, over the last ten years or so, have incrementally been being defunded at rates counterintuitive to maintaining quality care. I also commend you for publicizing, for all the world to see, the names (and faces) of just a few of the 'charged' individuals. May the publicity of your indepth expose, embarrass them, since obviously they fear nothing, no one, legally. Their union bosses, included.
        Interestingly enough, most if not all of these abuse violation dates seem to have occurred, notably, in the periods just prior to the last administrations' leave from office- 2002 up and until late 2008. My point? No one in this country of ours was paying attention to anything of importance- except- for and to - themselves. Doesn't surprise me though. The 'just go shopping', 'all is hunky dory' mentality was in full swing. No personal or civil accountability- for anything, really. All eyes were on- wars, shopping, and self-entitlement, and a nauseating sense of self-aggrandizing. Union members- included- in not worst of all. Fully asleep- at the wheel, domestically.

        What a country.
      49. judith · middletown ny · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        @ why fund them? Lisa, because some government fools thought this would be better...I saw this coming way back when de-institutionalization started, what did that mean? People living in hells like this, more people taking advantage of the money and even worse, a considerable increase in homelessness.

        Reform is needed, and those who find themselves in this situation need to have a forum to complain to without fear. People who are staff need to be reminded that they are "service providers"...thats service,

        and blessings to you J, maybe Times staffers will see your reply and expand on that, there are way too many people that have lived this horror.
      50. Trader Vic · New Hampshire · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        STOP THE SOCIALISM! We don't need these people and can no longer afford to pay for their care.Stop taxing me for people better off gone.

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      Offline Ursus

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      Comments: "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" #s 51-75
      « Reply #8 on: March 24, 2011, 07:57:18 PM »
      Comments left for the above article, "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" (by Danny Hakim; March 12, 2011; The New York Times), #s 51-75:

      51. GM · NY · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        Why are these animals still eligible for pensions that my taxes are paying for? This Sousa guy should be CUT LOOSE. There are so many unemployed people in NYS.... move these homes out of upstate and closer to the metro areas and you'll get a better pool of applicants. This is sickening.
      52. Andy · Los Angeles California · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        Dear de-funder
        Private or public these abuses can occur without proper oversight. what are "these" types of organizations? They are institutions to house the most vulnerable members of our society. Do you have some other model for this purpose? Private? Look at the abuses in the for profit private prisons. The issue is not to whether fund them. If you don't fund them as you say them you have these people roaming the streets and dying because they can not care for themselves. The problem will be handled by proper government oversight, all you tea-partiers want to do is demonize govt.
      53. avid reader · conn · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        Well for one if one obsserves social workers with a degree are the lowest paid, and most all have had issues in the past, thats why they go into this field. Most social workers have been abused themselves.

        Lock em all up for chrissakes. We have more loonies in this country than ever.

        catch 22.
      54. dexris · SantaAna, Calif. · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        Not unusual at all to see Unions in government jobs abuse their Union power. Unions protect their worker irregardless how awful the crime. I was just reading that in the LA School district 100's of teachers who are unqualified to teach, and are not allowed to teach, still get full pay for years to come, because of Union influence over politicians. It cost the LA School district Hundred of Millions.

        In my 72 years, time & time again I have read problems with State run institutions, its just not New York but in all corners of the USA, and perhaps in many parts of the world. My feelings are Human Nature plays a part in the abuse, when after years of authoritarian responsibilities the system just breaks down without strict oversight. This dilemma of over excessive force, misuse and abuse does not just happen in State Run institutions but also in private industry, but more so in government funded organization because of the red tape involved to alleviate the status quo and thus difficult to clean up because of the power of the unions.
      55. apfann · NJ · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        This is why people are so upset at public sector unions. Yes, people deserve a good defense, but, all sides must be protected. Not the employees at the expense of the population.

        How can these union bosses live with themselves? Shame on them, shame on the pols who let this continue. Shame on the workers who do it, and shame on the workers who turn a blind eye.

        What excellent reporting. Thank you
      56. Mulling · North Carolina · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        As long as we pay the lowest salaries and have the least stringent requirements for those who care for the most vulnerable among us -- children, the elderly, the disabled -- these horrors will continue. Who among the outraged readers woud be willing to have their taxes raised or give up some other government benefit to better ths situation?
      57. lutheranliar · NYC · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        Here is yet another example why it's a very bad idea for public employees to belong to unions. Where is the union to protect the residents of these homes?
      58. Patrik · Oregon · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        This is a very sobering report about how our society treats those who deserve our highest concern. Sadly, from reading the reports in Oregon, it is apparent that people with disabilities here also suffer from similar levels of abuse and neglect. The most frightening thought is that the state only has access to licensed care facilities where its reports are gathered. The number of community-based care facilities is growing with little oversight and inadequate enforcement. People with disabilities continue to be at the end of the line in terms of having their rights and issues addressed. With an aging population, now is the time to address our responsibility to support one another, not the corporate entities. The nation is no better than how we treat our most vulnerable. We stand taller when we reach out to ensure social justice for one another.
      59. bogus14 · New York, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        Is Jimmy Kimmell safe?
      60. kloss · wi · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        As a father of a disabled boy. I'm scared to death about hes future. I will do all I can to keep him out of institutions. And I wish the US was more caring but even the most Christian of Americans could care less about disable people. And are some of the most cruel in public. Its mostly women and Christians that say rude comments in public. My poor wife gets so much grief when she tries to shop or run errands with our / son. So maybe think twice before opening your mouth when you see a child not acting right. It could be illness but they jump right away to poor parenting. Can you not quite your child they say, you know they have parenting classes, such nice things from women in public. We are not alone women are really cruel to others who care for the disabled its never men who say anything always women.
      61. dc lambert · nj · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        "A spokesman, Herm Hill, said that...its hands were often tied because of the disciplinary and arbitration rules involving the workers’ union."

        It is disturbing that the Times has chosen to frame these abuses as a union issue. Over and over, it implies that were it not for the union, the conscientious, well-meaning employers would be firing evil abusers left and right. To add reader's resentment, you even add how allegedly great the abusers' salaries and benefits are, going 'all the way up' to $60,000, without mentioning average salary.

        I beg to differ with your anti-union narrative. You are essentially arguing that when left to their own devices, people rape and torture, and only a firm boss who can fire evil people can prevent such abuse. When we protect workers from being fired, then these abusers run rampant. If only the bosses can fire workers as he wants to, then all will be well. This narrative is pure fiction and feeds entirely into the hands of anti-union propaganda that is spreading like wildfire here in America.

        Systemic abuse such as is portrayed here invariably arises from a complex culture, usually a confluence of factors: hiring practices, a hostile work environment, an overall contempt from the top down on their charges, a gross lack of oversight on the part of management, an abusive tone set from the top down, etc. If the abuses are as wide ranging and consistent as you portray you simply cannot explain it away by saying that management's hands are tied. That's just preposterous. By the same logic, you would be saying that no private system would have abuses, for they can fire whomever they want, and that is patently untrue. Abuses arise from the overall complex culture of the entity, public or private. To destroy the workers' rights and allow this same sick management to now have power to fire anyone, would clearly not solve the problem at all--the entire system is corrupt and festering. All that would do is to further degrade working conditions and probably further increase turnover.

        What must be done here is to find out the source of the sickness. This is complex. The entire culture here needs to be changed. Rather than implying that bad apples at the bottom be fired, you should be trimming the trees at the root--fire the managers who allow this to happen. That would send a clear signal to management that they cannot blame workers for their own poor leadership; make management accountable. If that man was raping a woman, he should legally be fired, union or no union. HE committed a criminal act. The question is why was he not? You write that 'semen' was found, but you don't say whether DNA testing was done. What actually happened here? Was there a trial? Did the management cooperate promptly and completely? Or was there a culture of looking the other way, pushing things under the rug? My point is that this is a far far bigger problem than the 'union,' which would have no power if the man were found criminally guilty of rape.

        The anti-union bias in this article was almost as disturbing to me as the abuses it portrayed, for you are trying to diagnose a serious problem based on your own political agenda, rather than on the problem itself. You won't fix the problem by attacking unions.
      62. swp · Poughkeepsie · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        Don't stop with homes. Go to the public schools and review special education problems. Especially in cash rich areas where administrators are trying to cut cost by creating programs that place bad teachers with the most needy students. Look at the records of the teacher before they were placed in special ed. Normally parents can't really complain because the administration is who you complain to. They will hurt your child. There need to be a resource that is independent of education to monitor this roach motel of evil
      63. Mike Claiborne · NYC · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        The problems with public sector unions aren't just financial - their motivations are misaligned for providing services to taxpayers. In this case they are playing an almost evil accomplice to workers who are abusing the most vulnerable in our society. Do these unions feel no shame or obligation to do the right thing. Our state and country would be much better off if public sector unions were done away with
      64. blacklight · New York City · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        This kind of garbage demotivates me from wanting to pay more in taxes to the state. In fact, it demotivates me from wanting to pay any taxes at all to the state. So far, all I have seen from the state is the systematic short-changing of New York City and keeping employees who are no better than garbage in state employ. The City charges 4% to me in taxes and the state 8%. My opinion as a New York City resident is that I am better off paying the City 12% and the state 0%.
      65. aek · New England · March 13th, 2011 12:19 pm
        The reporter makes an important point that vulnerable people who are on the receiving end of "services" must have advocates. Yet most lack involved and informed family and friends.

        That's where community comes in. Local communities have a golden opportunity to form advocacy and support groups for vulnerable people in their local neighborhoods. The power of groups with many volunteers linking up with patients will provide many benefits:

        It will make these patients human by putting a human face on interacting frequently and personally with them.

        It will shine a light on neglect and abuse.

        It will provide a way for communities to hold government agencies and staff accountable to the people they are charged to serve.

        It will provide a means for vulnerable people to become involved with their community and be able to the bet of their abilities to contribute.

        As long as vulnerable people are stowed away out of sight and out of mind, they will remain the "anonymous other". They will continue to be thought of as less than others, not quite fully human, and not deserving of appropriate care and advocacy.

        Needless to say, most of the vulnerable are unable to vote. Their voices are silent or silenced.

        If you do not step up and give voice to them, then you are are contributing to their suffering and oppression.

        The key to remember is that "they" are "us".
      66. kugelkid · NY · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
        What is the problem here. this happens every day in many third world countries, including this one.
      67. JimPB · Silver Spring MD · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
        A BIG step toward humane, ethical, responsible care is readily available in the form of the Teaching-Family group home model. This model was developed through research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to address the need for a humane, replicable, effective and cost-efficient group home model for delinquents (the model was subsequently adapted successfully for emotionally disturbed youth, the developmentally disabled, autistic persons and adults with serious mental illnesses).

        The Teaching-Family group home research was not limited to the development and evaluation of the model, it extended to the dissemination and implementation of the group home model with procedures, embedded in a professional association (, for annual certification based on meeting a wide range of performance standards. (The Teaching-Family Association sets a standard that, unfortunately, no other professional organization has met for certifying professional performance.)

      With benefit of a research evidence-based for the model and for the model's high fidelity implementation, Teaching-Family group homes are like day vs. the night of all too many of the typical group home. Oh, that all group homes would offer the better living through research that the Teaching-Family group home offers.[/list]
      68. opinion · morgantown, wv · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
        Some institutions are set up with a community board that enlists volunteer activities and oversees care by being present in the facility on a regular basis. This should be written into law because if there is community oversight, there is much less chance of abuse and, on the other hand, there are opportunities for patients' complaints to be heard and problems corrected.
      69. Abby · Western Washington · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
        I hope this article results in significant changes in the running of these homes. The thought of those poor people being tormented and neglected disgusts me. They are being left helpless at the mercy of monsters. It's sickening. Thank God your reporters wrote this story and I hope the writers scream about it from the mountain tops until something changes. The Governor needs to make the reform in conditions at group homes for the disabled a tip-top priority. How does he sleep at night knowing these atrocities are happening on his watch? It's time to clean those houses from top to bottom.
      70. e w · CT · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
        Employees with union protection versus vulnerable populations with no protection: Who will win? Not the elderly person who can't speak for herself, not the juvenile defender who no one believes because he made a mistake borne of childhood abuse, and not the developmentally disabled person who sometimes gets facts wrong. Allowing unions to represent public employees caring for vulnerable populations means someone loses, and it will be the homeless, the bedridden, and the frail every single time.

        Even if I agreed union protection was acceptable (and I don't) how do you not even TRY to fire someone after they sexually assault someone who must wear a diaper? Would the union even have the guts to defend that person if the case were made public?

        Can we all find the courage to support restricting union power for the most vulnerable among us? Now is the perfect time.
      71. Holly · Golden, Co · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
        Every govenment effort at instiutionalizing the seriously mentally ill in instituions has failed for multiple reasons. Some economic, some social and as documented in this story some from criminal reasons. So our sane people are following Enstein's definition of insanity, to keep doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.
        What society doesn't see is the families who through scarifice, dedication and love who take care of their own. These people don't make public statistics or nor are they easy to be found by reporters to lay out their stories of success. The answer is not large or small publically funded or run instituions. We are asking these institutions to do something they aren't capable of, truly caring. Yes, some individual employees do and some individual employees abuse. But supervising, screening and qualifying people to do this job is an imperfect art at best.
        The truth is that seriously mentally ill people don't have a chance at any type of decent life outside of the family structure. There is not magic pill, literally or figuratively.
      72. C · NY · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
        Some years ago I volunteered extensively with a therapy program for children with mental and physical disabilities. Many of the children I met are now adults or approaching adulthood, and of course their parents have grown older, as well. I know that many of these children - many an only child or with a sibling similarly disabled - will someday end up in state-run homes. I can only hope that Governor Cuomo's administration is able to reform this mess - and that no more are not subjected to the abuse and poor treatment exposed in this article.
      73. CLP · CT · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
        Jeffrey Monsour should be commended. What a courageous person to persist in trying to do the right thing, rather than the easy thing. It is employees like Monsour that should be supported by the Union, not those clearly unfit for this work.

        In college I worked as a relief worker in a home outside Rochester, NY in which two clients were past residents of Willowbrook. These two females made great gains in health and wellbeing while in the group home setting. The individuals that I worked with treated the residents well.

        Clearly, supervision and oversight are important. I hope that Cuomo is able to create such a system that supports the care of residents and the employees that work hard everyday. And Jeffrey Monsour should be promoted to help!
      74. Just Donna · Cincinnati, Ohio · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
        Thank you, Danny. No matter how advanced we think we are as a nation caring for our population of adults with disabilities, we still have a very long way to go educating the general public about the reality they live everyday. Self-determination in the last 10 years has only pushed this population of adults further out in the margin making them more vulnerable to poorly supervised, under-funded group homes.

        This is a crime against humanity.
      75. Jay Mulberry · Chicago · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
        Thanks to Danny Hakim Times for spending the time and resources to put together such an excellent expose.

      © 2011 The New York Times Company
      « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
      -------------- • -------------- • --------------

      Offline Ursus

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      Workers Keep Their Jobs, Even After Repeat Offenses
      « Reply #9 on: March 25, 2011, 01:00:02 PM »
      Here's a video, found on a separate page and accessible via the below title link, which accompanies the above article, "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" (by Danny Hakim; March 12, 2011; The New York Times).

      A frame of this clip, visible behind the "start" symbol, reads as follows:

        "The New York Times investigated 399 cases involving state employees with a serious offense in the last two years, and at least one prior offense..."[/list]

        -------------- • -------------- • --------------

        The New York Times
        Published: March 12, 2011

        Workers Keep Their Jobs, Even After Repeat Offenses

        An investigation by The Times found that state employees who sexually abused, beat or taunted residents of group homes were rarely fired, and in many cases, were simply transferred elsewhere.

        © 2011 The New York Times Company
        « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
        -------------- • -------------- • --------------

        Offline Ursus

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        Comments: "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" #s 76-100
        « Reply #10 on: March 27, 2011, 10:26:31 PM »
        Comments left for the above article, "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" (by Danny Hakim; March 12, 2011; The New York Times), #s 76-100:

        76. a teacher · ny,ny · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          The offenses described require criminal prosecution, not simply dismissal or reprimand. If they happened on the street they would be considered criminal offenss.
        77. Thomas Maguire · Bronx, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          Please investigate violent juvenile gang members being transferred from closing prison facilities by NY State (anxious to close the door on what is happening in juvenile detention) into facilities for the developmentally disabled. These unrehabilitated vipers set up private fiefdoms, holding both disabled residents AND employees in a state of terror. This came to my attention when a particular house had a peculiar lack of front teeth in most of the residents.
          New York State is paying our privatized facilities a premium to take these young thugs. Economic pressures keep everyone looking the other way. Now they do need mental health treatment but they need it within the prison system as the DD community is already so vulnerable and devoid of oversight.
          Unions are NOT dictating law enforcement. They are being used as an excuse by those unfit to administer facilities of this type who do not want to interrupt the flow of CASH from the state and federal government. Just follow the MONEY not dittohead rhetoric.
        78. tomfromharlem · NY, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          Congratulations NYT. Is this the spearhead of new policy? Last week "hydro-fracing" and this week an expose on "group homes." Keep up your great work, and the reminder to all of us what "freedom of the press" is really for!
        79. Ted Morgan · Baton Rouge · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          Abuse of the most vulnerable in our lives defines much anxiety and fear we have as we age. This is a failure of government at a basic level. I know from visiting group homes for cognitively impaired people how difficult the work it. That is all the more reason we must insure it is done well and humanely.
        80. Mark · Dallas, Texas · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          Where do you find a list of homes where the abuse occurred. We are still very much in contact with someone for whom we were the advocates on record for a long time as the person had no family.
        81. Ted Morgan · Baton Rouge · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          We fear growing too old or infirm to oversee how our family and friends are treated in such facilities.
        82. Abramovich · Brooklyn , NY · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          How is this even possible?
          Could public employees' unions have anything to do with it? Just askin'.
        83. cjb · Albany, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          Your description of Mr. Monsour's experience as a whistle blower is the most telling as to the root cause of the problem. State employees - indeed employees of all large bureaucratically organized institutions - are routinely punished for trying to do the right thing. Any employee who raises questions of policy or points out shortcomings of an agency's practices will either be pressured into silence or dismissed. Those charged with protecting whistle blowers - the inspector generals and the attorney general - are actively complicit in their repression. Andrew Cuomo's actions in Mr. Monsour's case: referring his complaints to the very people he was complaining about - were despicable but predictable. This is how the system works.

          To change this and to bring genuine transparency to state government a Public Employee's Free Speech Act is absolutely necessary. Currently, any public employee can be disciplined - legitimately - for speaking out publicly about issued related to his/her job. This has been enshrined by the US Supreme Court in what has come be be known as the Garcetti Rule. The first step in opening up NYS government to public view is to eliminate the Garcetti Rule for state employees.

          Systemic abuse by public agencies can only occur if managers are confident that they can ensure the silence of their subordinates. The current system is designed to, and very effectively does, accomplish this. We must un-gag public employees before we will ever have transparency in state government.
        84. M.Ogorek · Maplewood, NJ · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          My brother's care at a group home in Lockport, NY was exemplary. He was, for seven years, part of a family of similarly disabled residents and was looked after by a caring and professional staff of long-term full time employees. Recent cuts in state aid have resulted in fewer full time staff, a "revolving door" of part time employees and decreased Medicaid Service coordination. Useful information on this issue is found at:

        I know that my brother received the best available care because his family was there looking out for him. Every week we would visit him at his home, every team meeting we would telephone conference. It was a privilege to see the wonderful relationships develop between him and his "buddies" on staff and in the home.

        We must endeavor to ensure that those who have no active or interested families at least have professional, compassionate care given by qualified and consistent caretakers. These "consumers" are human beings, the least of our brethren. They deserve the best care we can give.[/list]
        85. Sharon · Schenectady NY · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          How much do you want to bet that a year from now it is business as usual? They are too busy in Albany lining their pockets at the taxpayers expense to worry about this issue. And the people who work in these homes are more likely to vote that the people who live in them - so who gets more consideration? CSEA is a terrible union (I belong to it, I should know). It fights the state to keep open institutions that are EMPTY rather than save money for the taxpayers (which include its members) so that these employees continue to get paid to do nothing and pay their union dues. Anyone in Schenectady who can read knows that the union was complicit in a scheme at the school district that is going to cost millions to settle lawsuits and has already cost plenty for the criminal prosecution of the head of a local. There are always going to be workers who are falsely accused and that's why we have a union - to make sure that we get a proper defense in suxh instances. But the people who work for the union make way too much money to appreciate what it is like to make less that 30 thousand dollars a year and have a supervisor who is incompetent and has it is for you. One solution might be to have such homes assessed constantly by different people (to avoid having one person do it who does a bad job). Perhaps an outside/non-governmental group could be brought in. The culture of many governmental agencies tends to be far too much to be about team playing rather than doing the right thing.
        86. Marilyn J · Clinton Corners NY · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          Group homes run by Agencies in NYC require professional visits and care planning meetings which improve accountability. There are many examples of excellent staff who may not have much education, but who care deeply about the residents and have long term involvement with them. There is an easy way to report issues and the "Evil Union" model does not stop agencies from investigating and dismissing incompetent workers IF MANAGEMENT DOES THEIR JOB CORRECTLY. It is should be a misconception that unions WANT to hold on to incompetent and negligent members in schools, health care or in jobs where we protect the defenseless in our society.
        87. kb · Boston, MA · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          It is very expeditious and convenient to blame the government for abuses, as Lisa #2 and other do. It is very convenient for mayors, corporate folks, and others to blame teachers for every ill in the public education system. But privatization as the cure? Really? Because Wall Street and corporations are doing such an amazing job, right?

          The real problem, as others have pointed out, is that America is behaving as if it has no heart. Each
        [man] for himself. Blame everyone but those in charge. Turn your head when you see rampant abuse of power. And above all, don't give a second thought to those who are different. That's their problem. A country in which the majority considers itself "Christian," yet disabuses itself of the qualities and behavior espoused by the person upon which the religion is built. Constantly amazing.

        The idea that the authorities aren't marching into those homes THIS INSTANT to stop the suffering of these people is unfathomable to me. Shame on us all.[/list]
        88. John Davey · Foxboro, MA · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          Too bad Scott Walker is not the governor of NY
        89. kb · Boston, MA · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          It is very expeditious and convenient to blame the government for abuses, as Lisa #2 and other do. It is very convenient for mayors, corporate folks, and others to blame teachers for every ill in the public education system. But privatization as the cure? Really? Because Wall Street and corporations are doing such an amazing job, right?

          The real problem, as others have pointed out, is that America is behaving as if it has no heart. Each
        [man] for himself. Blame everyone but those in charge. Turn your head when you see rampant abuse of power. And above all, don't give a second thought to those who are different. That's their problem. A country in which the majority considers itself "Christian," yet disabuses itself of the qualities and behavior espoused by the person upon which the religion is built. Constantly amazing.

        The idea that the authorities aren't marching into those homes THIS INSTANT to stop the suffering of these people is unfathomable to me. Shame on us all.

        And cb#38: You're okay with the record profits insurance companies are making? You're okay with skyrocketing premiums, lack of access to health care while insurance company executives are pocketing millions upon millions of dollars?

        I never cease to be amazed at the willingness of my fellow Americans to enrich the already outrageously rich at their own expense. And sure, corporations are going to prevent abuse of any kind. Uh huh. Riggghhhhhttt...[/list]
        90. Liberty Lover · NYC · March 13th, 2011 12:20 pm
          Firstly, although your story was excellent and well-researched, it's really not news. Conditions in state-run facilities of any sort -- group homes, reformatories, prisons, drug treatment centers, whatever -- tend to be deplorable.

          The reason is simple: They're run by the government, with all of the incompetence, stupidity, inefficiency, and unaccountability typical of government agencies. The government is swift to descend upon private businesses and agencies in response to even the most trivial of accusations, but routinely exempts itself from the rules by which it insists the rest of us conduct our lives.

          And so we find our tax dollars paying the paychecks and pensions of known sadists and sexual abusers for decades on end, while the vulnerable people in their care suffer unspeakably, and those charged with running the system play the blame game. That's what you get from government. It will never change.

          Secondly, this is just the latest example of why public employees should not be allowed to unionize. he civil service laws that protect them, coupled with the appalling incompetence and apathy of those who supervise them and investigate allegations of wrongdoing, provide more protection than they deserve. They don't need unions, and in most cases, don't deserve them. That these unions consider it part of their job to protect known perverts and sadists just goes to show you what kind of mindset prevails in the world of civil service.

        91. Sarah D. · Montague, MA · March 13th, 2011 12:21 pm
          I can't even bear to read the full the article.

          I notice that one comment above blames it on the government, but the exact same problems arise in private nursing homes and institutions, where they also don't feel the need to report to the law, nor to protect the people in their care. The Catholic Church, ditto. Unions, ditto. Probably other churches and institutions as well. Wherever there's a vulnerable population, they're generally at the mercy of sheer luck in terms of how well-cared for they are.

          As a society, we don't value caring for people. The day-to-day work is largely considered unskilled, so we get people who either haven't had an opportunity to develop their skills and widen their knowledge base, or who couldn't be bothered. A lot of the chores are unrewarding, and my observation (based only on incidental experiences) is that there's not enough support for staff when they run into frustrations.

          When my father was in his last few months living in a nursing home, my mother was also falling into Alzheimer's, although it hadn't been diagnosed yet. She became unpredictable. She could be very unpleasant with my father when she visited him and too rough when she tried to help him. A staff member who observed this scolded her about it one day and tried to intervene. He was disciplined for doing this. I wish I'd thanked him.
        92. Mary Bullock · Staten Island NY · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          This is the kind of thing those opposed to public employee unions savor. It's up there with "last in first out" as abusive of the entire system, the taxpayers, and most of all their clients. If unions expect the public to support them, they have to start playing fair.
        93. orora · Dutchess County, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          Diana Jones Ritter, commissioner of OPWDD before the just-fired Max Chmurra, resigned from that position in July 2010 to become the cost-cutting czar of NY's MTA - after reigning over an agency that spent $4600 per person per day - more than 4 times as much as the cost of any other institution in the country for caring for the developmentally disabled!!! (See articles in the Poughkeepsie Journal for thorough, well-written descriptions of the state's rampant wasteful spending and other abuses at OPWDD:
        What is the state of New York doing? Rewarding the most incompetent administrators who spend our tax dollars like drunken sailors and allow monsters to abuse the most defenseless people among us. No... not just allow... PAY the monsters to abuse the defenseless.

        And every person reading this article must have the same chilling thought: this must be just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine what is going on in the group homes and institutions that hasn't been witnessed and reported![/list]
        94. louisrichards · Rochester, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          This is OLD news; such abuse has been happening for decades! One can only conclude that the abusers in the former, large, state-run institutions merely found new jobs in the current halfway homes ...

          The more it changes the more it stays the same!
        95. G. Morris · NY and NJ · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          Many elderly are abused by their own families at home as in the case of Mickey Rooney.

          Children have been abused by the people that were in charge of protecting them: priests, counselors, etc. since the beginning of time.

          One in four girls and one in six boys in the general population have been sexually abused by the time they reach 18. This is not done for the most part by public employees but by foster parents, relatives, etc.

          Our society continually fails at protecting the most vulnerable amongst us and decries oversight as socialism.

          Our society needs to pray for itself as I see no end in sight.
        96. HS · Rochester NY · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          Excellent article. But nowhere does it define a "group home". Is it state owned, leased or is there some other definition. If privately owned who is responsible for overseeing the structural maintenance, basic amenities such as heat and electricity and pests. How does private ownership interact with the state rules etc? The quality of the environment is an indispensable factor in the treatment the residents are given. And how does this tie in to the 2010 federal appeals court ruling to create 1500 units of supportive housing over the next few years.
        97. L.C. · nyc · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          How mamy things can we name that are run by the city or state that are 'well run'? From the MTA, to Child Protective Service, to the DMV to our courthourses, for some reason these always attract the lowest common denominator of worker...lazy, ignorant, apathetic, and looking for the biggest handout while doing the least amount of work as possible, with little to no oversight, gross ineptitude by management, corruption, nepotism, filling racial quotas etc. It's a recipe for disaster.
        98. Sharon S · Cortland NY · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          As a retired human services professional, I can attest that NYS does not have the resources- or the will- to adequately police these homes. Staff for oversight had been decimated and it is easier to find no problems, or pretend that corrective action plans have successfully implemented. You can beat yourself senseless trying to get results.
        99. HL · Saratoga Springs, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          For all those posting concerning Gov Cuomo's involvement in cleaning up these abuses, did they miss the point in the NYT's article about what happened when Mr Monsour brought his allegations to the AG's office, where Mr Cuomo was NYS AG?
        100. Alicia R · Elmira, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          This article made me sick...literally! I have worked in the field with individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health diagnoses off and on for nearly 14 years. It is disgusting to me to hear that just because someone works for the state, they are not terminated IMMEDIATELY for these instances of abuse! My experience has been with privately run non-profit agencies who will fire an employee at the drop of a dime for even an unfounded allegation of neglect or abuse simply because they will not take the chance of the individuals they serve being mistreated in any way.

          As for the individuals being "difficult to control," it is not about controlling them. They need and want the same things that every other person in this world wants and needs, eventhough they may not be able to express it in a way that most people will understand. We, as a society, need to treat them with the same human dignity we want for ourselves. We need to encourage them to grow and advance instead of causing their decline. We MUST acknowledge their DIFFERENT ABILITIES and what they are capable of rather than dwelling on their disability and what they are not capable of. And for the love of God (or whomever/whatever you worship), we MUST blow the wistle on anyone who we witness mistreating these AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL individuals who will melt your heart if you give them the chance!

          We can not allow this to become another instance such as the story of Kitty Genovese, where people stood by and witnessed a horrific crime yet did nothing about it. Stand up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves! Don't be afraid to make your voice heard regardless of what others think, espeically when it involves the abuse and mistreatment of human beings!

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        Offline Ursus

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        Comments: "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" #s 101-12
        « Reply #11 on: March 29, 2011, 12:43:13 AM »
        Comments left for the above article, "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" (by Danny Hakim; March 12, 2011; The New York Times), #s 101-125:

        101. Agnes · New Jersey · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          A very needed article and reporting of "sick" abuse. These people should be put away, they are sick, and should NOT be returned to work! That said, I have a couple of other things to say about the current atmosphere of our human condition.

          Regarding the horrific bus accident. I'm not focusing on any one company when I make the following statements, but since my husband and I are frequent travelers on I 95, we have noticed that many tour buses drive at VERY high speeds, far too fast to appropriately manage control, or, an emergency stop, they use the left lane to pass when they should never be in that fast moving lane, and more than once we have been cut off by a tour bus that cuts in, and out, of lanes, without properly accessing the passing space needed to clear the car behind them, and many are continually driving over the line. As I said, this has involved not just one company, but a slew of various logos which I can't even recall. Thus- there has to be some better standards for work hours/rest time in between jobs, and rules of the road dictated especially for persons who are responsible for the welfare of others!

          Lastly, instead of always making the average working man change things in their lives to suit the greater, how about the big companies making more concessions to stop the overuse of energy, when that's DONE, then we can all change our light bulbs.
        102. morekare · California · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          I was an inspector for the State of California Dept of Health Services which was responsible for paying the many State licensed facilities. When I began working for the State it had just implemented the surprise "On-site" inspection program. The facilities until then were paid without on-site supervision by the State. What a smelly and ugly mess. The patients had flies swarming all over their food, beds, bodies, etc. The odors of feces and urine permeated the air for several yards surrounding the facilities. The "On-site" Inspection Program was a God-send for these patients. I never did so much writing of "Violations" in my life as when I was assigned to inspect these facilities. We closed many facilities because I would write-up the facilities for violations and then followed-up to be sure the facilities had payments denied for lack of appropriate medical care of our Medicaid patients. After I retired, the on-site program was no longer funded by the State. I imagine the care of Medicaid patients has reverted back to its previous sorry state.
        103. S. Coleman Walker · Sharon, PA · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          Gee, maybe the "qui tam" contingency lawyer brigade can swing into action?
        104. smg · us · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          That there are so few comments on this article says it all. Humans are no "better" than any other species. The weak among us are vulnerable to being preyed upon by the strong, or left to fend for themselves. They are expendable, shunned, hated and feared. Whatever happens to them is their problem, and what difference does it make anyway? Our intelligence and creativity used to solve problems, and our compassion for others, simply does not extend to this population.
        105. Amy Ahlert · Philipse Manor, N.Y. · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          ".......... Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?" This article about the abuse is Dickensian in its description of the terror of those who must succumb to the horrific treatment of the "caretakers" who are members of protective unions. After reading this, all I could think of was that quote from "A Christmas Carol", when upon seeing the poor and mentally deficient people on the streets of London, Scrooge uttered the now famous line.
          Only thing is...........that was antiquated FICTION. This is real.And utterly and totally unacceptable.
        106. Dee · Rochester, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          The first order of business should be discharging any convicted abuser (Misdemeanor, ha)& stripping them of any benefits due most especially their pensions! The second should be taking review out of "internal" hands and turning it over to law enforcement who have the skills to investigate & analyze reports of abuse - any kind of abuse. I don't have a disabled child but I have family & friends who do...even if I did not, I would still find this abhorrent. Please Governor Cuomo, don't let this issue fade into oblivion - it is too important!
        107. Talbot · New York · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          Maybe Mr. Monsour could be teamed up with Mr. Sundram. Both men deserve medals. i wonder how many other people who fight against the repulsive abuse outlined in this story eventually leave because they are "not team players." We need fewer team players across the board, and more courageous and honorable people at every level, in every part of American life.

          The actions of the union provide a crystal clear reason why, despite the important and good work they do, they are often viewed with hostility. There has to be some way around this kind of mess short of getting rid of unions all together for these workers.
        108. Annette · NYC · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          This is disgusting and shameful, and a fear my family always had regarding the care of my (now deceased) severely Down syndrome uncle, who was unable to speak. These less-than-human abusers deserve the same treatment they inflicted upon the severely disabled.
        109. gussieone · asheville, nc · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          This article and the accompanying comments are discouraging. As a senior advocate, as someone who was medical neglect disabled by a spouse, as the outside caretaker for a parent for over a decade who resided in a "lovely" retirement community which became a 4th rate facility when it was taken "public" I say only "WAKE UP".
          If you know someone, related or not, in a residential home -- show up with no announcement after the administrative staff have left for the day (by 5:00 PM most often). Stay for an entire night and another day. Pay attention and file a report with the state on what you've observed. Ask yourself how you would feel being a resident there based on our personal knowledge.
          One can attribute abuse to institutions, yet institutions are not the problem behind abuse. Lack of oversight by all of us is the problem. One day and one night by each of us once a month with a follow up report naming names, times, and incidents that don't "feel good" would turn this around in two years.
        110. FrankC · Boston, MA · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          I worked at a group home for people with mental illness and substance abuse out of college and while many things were substandard I can say without reservation that staff were compassionate and fairly well-trained.

          The issue is training and accountability. Every staff member needs specialized, regular training and supervisors need to have a deeper and demonstrated knowledge of the population in addition to having managerial skills. Yes these jobs may not be highly desirable or selective but every person hired should be able to articulate a sincere desire to help and care for those who are vulnerable. While compassion/empathy/concern are "soft" and objectively hard to measure they are good indicators that an employee will not mistreat a "customer" (terrible term by the way).

          My guess is that these homes still operate on paper filing and documentation systems for progress notes and incident reports. This needs to change too.

          Reported incidents must be prioritized and any physical/sexual abuse allegations should be met with a temporary suspension or administrative leave. Because you are dealing with a extremely vulnerable population, a person's inability to express him/herself should not be primary factor in not addressing or investigating case. An agency like this can use a "more likely than not" standard, and the OPDD can make it clear upon hiring that dismissal will result if an allegation can rest strongly on a witness account or other report. It is ok to have a different threshold for determining wrongdoing that the legal system or other place of employment. If the workers union needs to make more concessions, get some damn good lawyers to bargain for the agency/state.

          Also, not to be completely "ageist" but recruit and hire young people. They are not as callous, burned out or indifferent as people who have been in the system for a long time.
        111. RC · Minnesota · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          Comment #2 Lisa makes a good point. There is no accountability for most government programs, which are characterized by waste, fraud, and corruption. Our prison system is another and much better example.
        112. Ange · Vermont · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          AVA#10 - I wonder if you have knowledge of the Ryan Report, which exposed the abuse, sexual and physical, that was commonplace in Ireland in the institutions run by the Catholic Church. You might want to investigate the abuses in Canada (The Boys of St. Vincent's and others) and Australia as well. Read about Bindoon in Australia and the crimes of the Irish Christian Brothers. The Magdalene Laundries were real, and existed until the 70's. These crimes were world wide and involved more than abuse by priests 40 years ago.

          Yes, I am outraged by the treatment of those in old age homes, and homes for the mentally ill. I agree there are thousands of instances of abuse by those in charge with few consequences. I applaud the NYT for exposing the criminal treatment of those vulnerable individuals who must depend on others for their care. Please NYT, continue to monitor and report what is actually being done to correct these abuses. Our elected officials have made lots of promises, but will they actually follow up on those promised corrective measures? Those who cannot care for themselves deserve to be protected from the crimes and criminals described in this article.
        113. The Shekster · New York, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          This story left me scared and angry. Scared for all those disabled who have to bear this kind of treatment when all they're looking for is help and guidance. To be treated like a human being when they can't do it themselves. Angry because it's yet another abusive, irresponsible, blind union (Civil Service Employees Association), that refuse to admit fault and continues to shield it's members. This reminds me of the "Rubber Room" where hundreds of abusive/unqualified teachers sat and read the paper everyday while collecting their full salaries. I'm sure there are countless more examples. The unions are full of them (ask any member to brag about it)

          I congratulate all those involved with getting this out to the public. It is through your hard work and dedication with stories like this that will bring much needed change in a system gone terribly wrong and corrupt. May I also congratulate all those involved for choosing a profession- journalism, instead of greedy Wall Street or marketing America's junk food.
        114. connor · nyc · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          This is really terrible and unfortunate, but I'm not surprised. America views this population as ugly
          and useless in our society. The position of caretaker, even with the best of training, is obtained as
          a last resource. Sad to say, the best this population offers is a job with good benefits due to its union.
          I hope some change will come from this exposure, but I don't expect to see any miracles.
        115. ACDavis · Nassau NY · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          The unions do not hold all the power in these situations. The role of agency management is critical in documentation and pursuit of discipline for state employee wrongdoing. The article describes an administrative culture that is appallingly incompetent at best or corrupt at worst. The people of this state deserve much better.
        116. nadja15 · Mesilla, NM · March 13th, 2011 12:22 pm
          This cannot be blamed on any one factor, but rather on the cumulative effect of low educational levels (and aspirations) for the U.S. population in general, prolonged economic collapse and the attendant fear and anger that they bring to low echelon people, and to the more generalized lack of sensitivity and patience in all of us, partly stimulated by our increasing need to feel like (and relate to) machines. It is not a new problem, by the way, as there are both fictional and factual documents about this kind of abuse in this country, dating from pre-WWII. And, of course, many "boomers" will have treatment like this to look forward to as they age and become more physically and economically dependent in the coming age of cannibals.
          Why not have all the child killers and abusers (both secular and religious--this should be equal opportunity) put in a home where the current batch of sick abusers from the New York State system can work on them? Oh, yes, and have it all funded by the bailed-out corporations.
        117. jctrainor · Binghamton, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:47 pm
          Having worked in residential care settings for at-risk adolescents for many years I am far to familiar with the kind of abuse that can result from placing under trained staff in charge of a vulnerable population. In the small and restrictive settings, which be as isolating as a prison cell for someone with serious physical or cognitive abilities, the line staff can assume a sense of almost god like authority over the lives and welfare of the consumers they have been entrusted to care for. While there are definitely a considerable number of people who work in these homes who have no business being there in the first place, the supervision and management of these placements shares just as much of the blame. When a young or inexperienced aid is put in charge of a group of consumers with significant mental, physical, and emotional disabilities without sufficient support or training they can become easily overwhelmed and respond out of frustration and experience a growing desire to control the home rather than supporting the residents (a situation that I have experienced myself). The management of these placements is too often based on a desire for "coverage" first with quality of care as, at best, a secondary concern. Furthermore effective supervision should include reporting these abuses to law enforcement or adult protective services on prompt basis. To ensure accountability in this system that is the only way to guard against the CYA culture in these settings.
        118. Just Donna · Cincinnati, Ohio · March 13th, 2011 12:47 pm
          Very well said, "M.Cherau" in Vignolles, France, and "as" in New York...

          Instead of crimes being committed against them in institutions tucked away from society, the crimes are being perpetrated right from under our noses, in our own neighborhoods. Maybe it's not where we put them, maybe it's with whom we put them.
        119. Arnold Cabasso · Fair Lawn, NJ · March 13th, 2011 12:47 pm
          I am a psychologist and I worked for many years with developmentally disabled individuals at three state agencies and four private ones, all in New York. The employees are generally the same at both; they want to do a good job and care about the consumers. However, the biggest difference is that when an employee is doing a poor job and needs to be removed it happens immediately at a private agency, and well, not at all at state agencies. The reason is an arbitration system weighted towards the employee.
          Along with several other staff I testified against two women who had illegally used seclusion against a number of consumers. During the hearing I overheard the arbitrator say that about one of he women "she ran a tight ship." I replied "like Mussolini ran a tight country." Both women were allowed to continue working.
        120. Melissa · New York, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:47 pm
          Seems like the solution is to stop funding these places and provide the families of disabled people or disabled people themselves with vouchers so they can chose where they live. There are many other options, but sadly they are not given the choice. Relatives of mine have both lived in and worked at Camphill communities and we have had a very positive experience. In fact, Camphill communities are so nice that it's easy for them to hire the relatives of the disabled in care. This can really contribute to well-being as of course relatives generally care more than random state-hired strangers.
        121. richard · denver · March 13th, 2011 12:47 pm
          Just another example of that wonderful "governmental " solution to all of our problems. Big Daddy is very good at promising solutions , taking tax money, but not very good at "regulation" in carrying out morally decent results. Government is NOT the solution!
        122. Stuffster · NY · March 13th, 2011 12:47 pm
          Green Man (#20) -- background checks and fingerprinting are S.O.P. for employment at that agency. There's no way, however, to check reliably for good character, stress tolerance, or basic intelligence. While some higher-functioning individuals may make allegations in order to 'get back at' some staff, the lower-functioning residents have no such ability & rely on other staff, supervisors, and family advocates to speak for them.
        123. Kati · Seattle, WA · March 13th, 2011 12:47 pm
          Only 39 comments! I expected (and we need) at least a thousand.

          Danny Hakim, thank you for investigating and bringing this horrible situation to light.
        124. eliza1600 · NY,NY · March 13th, 2011 12:50 pm
          Thanks for shining the spotlight on a very serious problem.
          The reality is, what is reported here is less than the tip of the iceberg.
          Most of the abuse and neglect of all vulnerable consumers/ patients never gets reported, and there is a widespread culture of denial and deceit. This extends beyond those with intellectual and physical deficits, and includes many needing community health care.
          The blame rests squarely with the agencies responsible for oversight,and those at the top doing nothing to protect the vulnerable. This includes Governor Cuomo and the Attorney General's office, who failed to act when incidents of abuse, neglect and fraud were reported. Having reported multiple incidents of abuse and violations of laws to both the AGs office and the NY State DOH,one learns that not only could they care less, but those of us advocating for the most vulnerable are targeted and retaliated against.
          The scary thing is, the lack of adherence to standards of care and outright abuse of vulnerable people has become so commonplace, too many are desensitized to the plight of these people. Because nothing has been done for years,even the most determined and influential of clients and their advocates dare not speak up. Many can attest to filing complaints, only to be met with more severe abuse and neglect.
          Cleaning house of the top managers is a start. CSEA has been complicit with this horrendous situation for years, and they need to be fined and held accountable.
          Then accountability needs to be instilled in those providing oversight. Those who have engaged in cover-ups,looked away, or failed to act and protect, including physicians, need to be fired and brought up on charges.
        125. LG · Brooklyn, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:50 pm
          Very few posters remember the infamous Willowbrook facility on Staten Island.

          Let me quote from Wikipedia, "By 1965, Willowbrook housed over 6,000 mentally disabled children, despite having a maximum capacity of 4,000. Senator Robert Kennedy toured the institution in 1965 and proclaimed that individuals in the overcrowded facility were "living in filth and dirt, their clothing in rags, in rooms less comfortable and cheerful than the cages in which we put animals in a zoo" and offered a series of recommendations for improving conditions."

          1.) The article omits focus on the vast number of "group homes" that are well run.

          2.) A large number of "group homes" were purchased or leased by the State and completely rehabilitated, renovated and remodeled into high-quality living facilities. No mention of this in the article.

          3.) A large number of the group homes are not directly run by the State, but by not-for-profit organizations and religious orders.

          4.) There are large lobbying groups of parents, relatives and advocates
          that work to secure State funding and improvements in the system. No mention of this in the article.

          5.) The libertarians, conservatives and radical right wing extremists are happy to denounce all government programs; trade unions, Democrats as the cause for the suffering described in the article.

          6.) Governor Andrew Cuomo will undoubtedly call for an investigation, and as noted in the article, has recruited new and effective leadership to address pressing issues described.

          President Ronald Reagan didn't close Willowbrook; there is no comparability between low level staff dysfunction in "group homes" and the new federal Health Care reforms; Democrats don't want "these same people" to run a health care system.

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        Offline Ursus

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        Comments: "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" #s 126-15
        « Reply #12 on: March 30, 2011, 10:59:30 AM »
        Comments left for the above article, "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" (by Danny Hakim; March 12, 2011; The New York Times), #s 126-150:

        126. Belinda Gomez · Pasadena · March 13th, 2011 12:50 pm
          Tax dollars at work, civil service unions.
        127. Anon · New York · March 13th, 2011 12:50 pm
          If this series wants to address how abuse/neglect in group homes can be prevented, it will need to address aspects of group-home living that are currently considered luxuries. Staff need informed behavioral training (ABA for autism, e.g.) so they have respectful and effective ways to respond to frustrating behaviors. There need to be enough staff to take residents to activities in which they interact with the community at large - employees need to look forward to their jobs and residents need to be part of the general public. The standard of care needs to be improvement; otherwise, the result will be regression or abuse. Group homes need to provide occasions for all residents and family members to know each other. And most importantly, there need to be more beds than people, not the years-long waiting lists that exist today. When there's a scarcity of available placements, family members can't choose alternative care, there's no competition among agencies for consumers, and there's no measure of accountability.

          A column in today's paper extols Governor Cuomo's budget. Look closely at what that budget does to funding for Medicaid-based residential care and services for disabled people and you'll see that all of the pre-existing conditions for abuse will only grow under it.
        128. DaveD · Wisconsin · March 13th, 2011 12:50 pm
          Union employees, doubtless. But are you certain these "homes" aren't being run by the Catholic church? Sure sounds like that organization's M.O.
        129. Rocco · Albany, NY · March 13th, 2011 12:50 pm
          Do you think it is much different than what goes on in nursing homes? The problem employee typically moves on to a different nursing home because no one is willing to give a poor evaluation or reference.
          And I really don't believe that is it is much different in group homes that are operated by voluntary agencies. Consider yourself blessed if you don't need long-term care in this country....
        130. Susan · North Carolina · March 13th, 2011 1:14 pm
          I worked for 12 years in the area of patient/client advocacy. I have taken reports and filed complaints of patient abuse/neglect in state mental hospitals, foster care facilities, and nursing homes. One thing is clear: the state agency responsible for monitering abuse, and adjudicating complaints, operates with the primary goal of ensuring that the facilities never have to be closed down for lack of staff. Almost all of the patients in these facilities are wards of the state and it is the state that must ensure that there is somewhere, someplace (no matter how poorly staffed, dirty or otherwise inadequate) to put them. Often that means that inspection reports are falsified, and that unqualified, disinterested, or even criminal staff are allowed to remain on the job. Since few of these patients have family involved in their care, the state is never sued for the harm done by their failure to properly screen, supervise, or train the caretakers. There is really no compelling reason for the state agency to be active in protecting the rights of the disabled or ensuring they receive decent care and services.
        131. Louis · CA · March 13th, 2011 1:14 pm
          NAACP what's the point of your existence, if you do nothing?
          From the article:
          "'Why don't you get a Brillo pad and scrape the black off you?'"

          Family destroying conditions also exist in family, criminal, and housing court systems where minorities rely on Court Appointed attorneys whose sole existence is to make the proceedings run as quickly as possible.
        132. emm305 · SC · March 13th, 2011 1:15 pm
          "A spokesman, Herm Hill, said that the vast majority of the agency’s employees were conscientious, and that its hands were often tied because of the disciplinary and arbitration rules involving the workers’ union. "

          Mr. Hill, you wouldn't have to worry about a union if you reported suspected crimes to law enforcement. Jeez.

          This should be a warning to parents who give birth to severely disabled children. Your child will probably outlive you. THIS is what you can expect to happen if you decide to NOT let nature take its course and, instead, allow extraordinary medical interventions to keep alive a child that will never be able to even try to protect his or herself.

          I know this sounds cold and hard, but you have to face the fact that this will likely be your child's fate.

          It's no different for an adult who suffers a stroke or traumatic brain injury. If they will never recover, let them go naturally. Don't let them be subjected to years of rape and abuse because YOU can't let go.
        133. Doris Liebman Appelbaum · Milwaukee · March 13th, 2011 1:16 pm
          I lived this scenario. My son was a Willowbrook resident, and I didn't know about any of the abuse till Rivera and Kennedy took it on. My son (who is legally deaf and blind and developmentally disabled) now lives in a group home on Long Island, and I worry often about his caregivers and well being. Since I live hundreds of miles away, it is difficult to maintain reality. Sure, I get reports, and I visit him annually, but .... I am the only person in the family who keeps close contact, but that's not enough when you live in another state.
        134. D · NYC · March 13th, 2011 1:17 pm
          And this is the tip of the iceberg. What about group homes or residential facilitites for the mentally ill (yes, they still exist). As well as residential and long term treatment facilities for those being treated for substance use disorders. I like to believe the vast majority of workers do so with compassion and understanding but when even one or two get away with what you describe in the article it can change the attitude of all involved. It begins with leadership. Working for "burned out" directors and supervisors whose primary interest is a paycheck not a resident leads to this kind of behavior as well. ALL staff needs training in these facilities including janitorial workers, kitchen staff, office staff, drivers, clinical staff and aids. These are not easy jobs but they can be incredibly rewarding with good leadership. Oh, and for Mr Truue who believes the workers discussed are NOT civil servants, please try reading the article again. If this were the private sector my guess is there would be no union defending this disgusting behavior and being rid of those who exhibit such would be easy! I once left a job partly due to the unacceptable behavior of the union. There too, one must follow the money.
        135. elijah · boston, ma · March 13th, 2011 1:18 pm
          This article has a gaping hole in its reporting: how much funding is available to hire qualified people to staff these homes?
          The problem here is not a few "bad apples." It is a system in which extremely difficult, stressful work is also very poorly rewarded. As a result, many potentially fine caregivers do not take these jobs, and the ones that do are overworked, overstressed, and feel like they have very little support or back-up. Obviously better oversight is needed, but that is likewise a matter of funding.
          This is a story of societal priorities, not of personal flaws--and the current round of budget cuts will make this situation worse, no matter how many fine stories are written and how many statements of concern are made by officials.
          As with public schools, money is not in itself a solution, but the absence of money is in itself a problem. You don't get great care or great education (which is obviously a connected issue) on the cheap.
        136. rayo · NC · March 13th, 2011 1:18 pm
          This is why UNIONS need to be curtailed. Our most vulnerable population kids , disbled and sick are at their tender mercy. Just like wall street have unfettered bosses, unions have them too. I was prt of one and stayed at the capitol facing hotel with unin bosses who spent limitless. Who paid: poor union workers. If you guarantee a job whether an astonaut a wall street CEO or a teacher its going to be the same. The unions should have a way to st 100k bus driver salary. Same with NFL and actors guild etc: who pays finally/we the public who buy tickets.
        137. Christina · Summerland, CA · March 13th, 2011 1:19 pm
          The fact of the matter is that the majority of these workers that are hired to look after the needy, disabled and downtrodden among us, are paid slave wages. They do not even make ends meet. It is a tough, demanding and often thankless job that pays minimum wage. Further, there is a very high turn-over rate as, again, the workers simply do not make a living wage, not enough to pay the rent. Personally, I would like to see that every single one in this society who works hard for a living, no matter how humble the field, everybody should at LEAST make a decent living wage. Of course, I do blame it directly on the stingy, greedy and incredibly myopic creeps that run these ghastly corporations; their insatiable appetites for disgusting and piggish gluttony; and I do indeed blame the deregulation of every industry, starting with old Reagan; I blame each politician in each administration, Democrat and Republican, that continued deregulation for the sole benefit of unconscionable corporate interests. When on earth with people say ENOUGH against CORPORATE PERSONHOOD?!?!
        138. walter Bally · vermont · March 13th, 2011 1:19 pm
          Liberals are mean people.
        139. Michele · Connecticut · March 13th, 2011 1:58 pm
          Excellent article. I know people who work/have worked in group homes whose stories thankfully aren't as horrifying as the ones in this piece. They are still terrible, everything from incompetent/unreliable co-workers to theft of clients' money and personal property. Perhaps job requirements for these positions need to be enhanced such as medical training and background checks. Change union policies as well.
        140. Redliana · Pittsburg, PA · March 13th, 2011 1:58 pm
          This article exemplifies why public employee unions are becoming hated. This union should be held financially liable for the actions of their employees after obvious and repeated abuse has occurred. A strong economic incentive to remove the offenders from the state payroll and commence with criminal proceedings would obviate the need to completely dismantle the union.
        141. H. Hackenbush · NJ · March 13th, 2011 1:59 pm
          Just think, soon they'll be even more state and federal cutbacks to institutions such as these, guaranteeing that ever more poorly trained, unqualified employees will be put on the payroll... after all, any half-way smart young student is going to take a pass at loading up thousands of dollars in student debt, all so they can work a thankless, highly demanding job that has little pay and poor benefits.

          Well, at least the wealthiest in this country get to keep their tax breaks in place... after all, the richest 1% of people in this country, who own 38% of the entire nation's wealth and overall hold a larger share of national income at any given time in the U.S. since 1928, can't be expected to pay 38% in Federal taxes!
          As for these so-called "mentally disabled" people... let them get off their lazy duff and pay their fair share!
          Go, Tea Party, GO!
        142. Anonomous · New York · March 13th, 2011 2:01 pm
          having worked for over 20 years with facilities that recieve state funding on behalf of mentally and physically impaired, No- I am not surprised one bit

          To this day I can not forget hearing a nurse yell at a patient who was mentally retarted and yes, incredibly sweet say: "come here you little's time for your meds" and yes, I did report her to the administrator
          I couldn't take it anymore. My family warned me not to report her since there could be repurcussions
        143. Maddie07 · Florida · March 13th, 2011 2:01 pm
          I support unions but also believe they should be held accountable. I think a more in depth investigation about how they handled these incidents is necessary. All parties need to be responsible.

          The support of union's to protect and represent is not a blank check. If they want the continued support, they also need to clean up their act.

          What have you got to say Civil Service Unions of New York?
        144. 07666 · NJ · March 13th, 2011 2:40 pm
          I work in a non profit agency that provides residential and other services to the autistic people. If the problems are that bad in the state run homes you should see what is done in the private sector. The salaries are worse the quality of the staff is worse. The direct care workers in many cases are not that far ahead of the higher functioning consumers that they care for. Medicad abuse is rampant in the special article 16 and 28 clinics. As an RN who has supervisory responsibilities for the care that is given I am afraid of the direct care staff too.
          The end of large institutions has only fragmented the problem.

          Read Asylum by Edgar Brontfman, It gives an insight in to how a large community can be beneficial.
        145. Thomas Maguire · Bronx, NY · March 13th, 2011 2:41 pm
          Speaking as a class member I can tell you that as a group, the parents of the developmentally disabled are fried; having attempted, in the family, to do what these institutions cannot seem to. They sit at the top of the advocacy movement, while withstanding an unrelenting stress level that lays waste to everything.

          It is human nature that a group like this will attract exploitation against which they are defenseless, being compelled as parents to do what is best.

          In-family assistance is preposterously absent or woefully inadequate. It is a commonly applied principal of law, that the family holds the best interest of the child yet far more dollars are available to warehouse your child than are available to keep them in the family home.
          Community based care means in our community, not upstate or out of state as is practiced today. Saying it didn't work is endorsing the present result of minimum wage and maximum sequester as the best we could do.

          At the same time, I do agree that the large scale hospital style institutions should not have been closed. Maybe all the employees needed to be fired but I still don't understand how you fire the buildings, land and patients in a politically expedient abdication of responsibility for mental health. We need thousands more inpatient beds and we need them in the patient's home community. This is where family care and support exist for the patient as well as family oversight. You can't pay money for that kind of care and if you could it certainly would not be minimum wage.

          The mainstreaming and destigmatization of high and moderate function individuals is a civil right that cannot be turned back any more than slavery. The care of low functioning ones, as we would like to be cared for, is revealing of the quality of our society. At the moment, we have some giant steps taken half a century ago followed by a virtual freefall. Universal mainstreaming is the pipe dream of forces looking to reduce cost of a population who we have repeatedly failed during prosperity. We have been paying $2.00 on a $10.00 tab and now they want to make it $1.50.

          Society is enriched by contact with the developmentally disabled and the developmentally disabled are enriched by contact with society. They get a life, we get an enhanced level of understanding. It is government's role to promote this relationship without patronage while administering reasonable protections for all concerned.
        146. athensarea · pennsylvania · March 13th, 2011 2:41 pm
          There is no way to oversee or enforce the needed standards on thousands of small group homes. There are not enough licensed professionals to staff them either. We shut down large facilities due to "abuses" but it would seem there is much more of a chance to do a lot better if we re-look at that approach. Every setting could then have sufficient professional staff to assure that decent, humane care was being delivered. Things have changed tremendously in the past thirty years and I can help but think that the a better job could be done now rather than exposing these folks to the luck of the draw. I think we should reconsider the same idea for young children quite frankly, a well run orphanage has GOT to be better than most of the foster situations I see these kids in.
        147. Rob · Saratoga NY · March 13th, 2011 2:41 pm
          I am an employee of the agency and have worked hard to make changes in my region that address these issues. It's a slow process and you have to stick your neck out for what is right. After charging a group of staffers with neglect they ganged up and falsified charges against me. I was later cleared of any wrong doing. They agency needs to require more education for entry level positions, being able to read and write in English is now all that is required! Most of them do that poorly. In my region several of the homes are managed by people with only a
          GED. Couple that with the power trip they are on for having that much control over staff and consumers is a formula for disaster.
        148. lassie · north of Virginia · March 13th, 2011 2:41 pm
          The staff in these places are often there because they are unemployable elsewhere and the turnover is so high that it would seem management will take pretty much anyone with a pulse. The pay is shockingly low and the work is extremely difficult, which means that ANYONE who is capable of getting a job elsewhere, will. The unions absolutely need to own up to the serious problems discussed in the article (I expect these unions are also filled with people who couldn't get a job anyplace else - I mean, would YOU choose to work in conditions like these for $7/hour or less?), but anyone who thinks privately-run homes are any better is deluding themselves. I would bet money that private institutions don't even offer health insurance to their workers or play Wal-Mart games with hours so that most workers are prevented from being eligible for benefits.

          As someone else mentioned, the center of this problem is not the unions but that caregiving is the lowest-status profession in our society. Our economic and political system ignores or despises anyone who needs daily help from others, in particular those who never "get better," like the the elderly and the severely disabled, AND the people who care for them. It is a serious, even dire issue, especially as the population ages.
        149. myrtiewebb · california · March 13th, 2011 2:41 pm
          In WI and CA where I have worked in community programs for the developmentally disabled and in small businesses for home care for the elderly, I have seen and reported vicious abuse and neglect; in each case the agencies and businesses cover up. In most cases, they pay the minimum wage and provide only inadequate baby sitting. Only when I played stupid and hid the fact that I was educated and well trained with a graduate degree did I get hired.
          We once believed that the vulnerable of our society deserve our best effort. Alas, no longer.
        150. Jeff Gentry · Beverly, MA · March 13th, 2011 2:41 pm
          I am incredibly grateful for the in-depth reporting on this oft-neglected topic. I work for Triangle, a nonprofit disability service agency in Greater Boston that is developing an intervention called IMPACT:Ability in order to address this epidemic of abuse.

          We are convinced that a comprehensive approach to this problem requires an intervention that addresses the systemic problem, while also equipping individuals with disabilities/self-advocates with the skills they need to advocate for their own safety.

          For this reason, IMPACT:Ability provides Safety & Self-Advocacy Trainings for individuals with disabilities/self-advocates that provides the skill training required to establish personal boundaries, physically defend oneself from potential or actual perpetration, and report abuse to trustworthy individuals who can help assess and respond to these incidents. Over the past sixteen months we have provided these trainings within schools, nonprofit organizations, and disability advocacy groups.

          We are now developing Abuse Prevention Leadership teams at a state agency, a major public school system, and within the architecture of our own organization. These teams will be equipped with the skills required to identify potential perpetrators, create clear systems for abuse reporting as well as effective response, and, most importantly, create an environment in which healthy relationships are the norm.

          Since IMPACT:Ability addresses this epidemic at systemic and individual levels, we are hopeful that this intervention will lead to lasting change within our state and will eventually be replicated in states like New York. If you are interested in learning more about this initiative, please do not hesitate to contact me at

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        Offline Ursus

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        A Case History: Roger Macomber
        « Reply #13 on: March 31, 2011, 04:56:23 PM »
        Here's another "sidebar," so to speak, associated with the above article, "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" (by Danny Hakim; March 12, 2011; The New York Times)...

        Not clarified by The Times is whether Mr. Macomber would still be happily employed by New York State, had he not violated the technical terms of his probation the last time around.

        View full 39-page collection of documents at the below link, or click here for pdf download.

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        The New York Times
        Published: March 12, 2011

        A Case History: Roger Macomber

        An edited selection of documents in the case of Roger Macomber, a developmental aid worker in western New York who was transferred several times during his tenure working for the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. Mr. Macomber was dismissed in 2010 after violating his employment probation. Certain names and details were blacked out before the documents, received through a Freedom of Information Request, were provided to The Times. And several obscenities were deleted before publication on The Times's Web site.

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        Offline Ursus

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        Comments: "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" #s 151-17
        « Reply #14 on: April 04, 2011, 01:11:54 PM »
        Comments left for the above article, "At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity" (by Danny Hakim; March 12, 2011; The New York Times), #s 151-175:

        151. Vadim99 · Detroit, Mi. · March 13th, 2011 2:41 pm
          Very depressing story. Nothing new, of course, similar stories have appeared for decades, and nothing is done. Why? Because we warehouse people we wish to forget about, allow the dregs of society to care for them, and offer little to no oversight of said dregs. Who, by the way, are protected by organized criminals (what we used to call unions - but at least in the US, have long since become utterly corrupt). Will anything change, of course not.
        152. Nan · New York, NY · March 13th, 2011 2:41 pm
          I wonder if there is any circumstance of record (law?) that would cause any state employee cited in this article to lose their pension. Horrid behavior - shame on the system that not only permits, but seems to protect it.
        153. swh · California · March 13th, 2011 2:41 pm
          Another major case against public employee unions. Preservation of the union at all costs and reduced accountability for its members does not further the 'best' interests of us all. We don't need them and we do need accountability for poor performance, let alone criminal performance
        154. oldmill · ny · March 13th, 2011 2:41 pm
          I don't understand why each and every one of these situations are not referred to as a criminal act and reported to the police? Union, administration and state should not be part of the equation for a criinal act. They should be separate in the consequences. Isn't criminal prosecution the consequence for criminal activity? Dependants of the state have the same rights as anyone else!!
        155. El Disidente · Rochester NY · March 13th, 2011 2:41 pm
          I hope that the OPWDD is also thoroughly audited and investigated for the epidemic of fraudulent workers' compensation claims that are filed by the workers in these shelter homes. The volume of these costly and highly questionable 'accidents" - often used to either avoid criminal investigation for client abuses or to retire with a generous disability benefit - is costing the state millions of dollars.
        156. Jerry O · Yonkers, NY · March 13th, 2011 2:41 pm
          I wish that the NY Times reporting included the names of the Arbitrators who give such slaps on the wrist to employees guilty of abusing clients in their care. The standard should be termination. Lateness, absenteeism, minor neglect of duties can be part of progressive discipline where penalties will lead to termination if there is no improvement. Documented abuse should result in termination.

          Letting the public know the names of these Arbitrators will go a long way to raising the standards for care in these state-run homes. I am surprised that the NY Times is protecting these Arbitrator by not revealing their identities. They are a key part of this problem.
        157. AZ joe · Globe AZ · March 13th, 2011 2:41 pm
          As a retired RN here in AZ you are required to have a background check by the FBI to work with the elderly or children and the state doesn't have any oversight of the guardians (lawyers) who exploit their wealth till they are broke and then give them to the state medicaid roles. We need to better prepared for our future with legal paper in place and family who know our wishes. As old and disabled you will be seen as a liability to the state not an asset good luck.
        158. hijos · Ithaca, NY · March 13th, 2011 3:10 pm
          This is worse than the Catholic Church. My tax dollars are subsidising this?? Why wasn't the rapist prosecuted?
        159. ex-state worker · queensbury NY · March 13th, 2011 3:11 pm
          As an ex- state worker, if the unions and directors spent more time fixing the "situation" rather than burying it, the system would be better off. When someone does report abuse, they are black-balled and their jobs are a living hell.stupid issues take the lead, and the important ones get tucked away.Some supervisors are the blame for unneccesary "deaths" of these people for lack of ambition and taking matters brought to their attention "seriously".Perhaps the closure of the instition wasn't a good idea.. too many individual homes to keep an eye-on !! good job Jeff monsour !
        160. Kip Dare · South Glens Falls, New York · March 13th, 2011 3:11 pm
          I can't believe Governor Cuomo through Jeffrey Monsour under the bus! He should be ashamed of himself...
        161. Tom · Vallejo, CA · March 13th, 2011 3:11 pm
          The solution is simple
          Remove Collective Bargaining
        162. Ginger · Lafayette, CO. · March 13th, 2011 3:11 pm
          So, what r u going 2 do about it Andrew? Can't pass the buck this time, like when u were Att. General. Ps. This is why people hate unions.
        163. Mouse · PS · March 13th, 2011 3:11 pm
          Public sector unions at their best!
        164. dsard · Cleveland, OH · March 13th, 2011 3:13 pm
          My mentally retarded brother was committed to the tender mercies of a Buffalo, NY area group home in 1990, upon the death of our mother. At first, the care was amazing. Everyone had a minimum of an Associate';'s degree in a human services area. The manager of the home had a bachelors in social work. Within a year, my brother had gotten down to a healthy weight, and was much more socialized. He was encouraged to pursue his interests in art and even had a work on display at the Albright Knox.

          Then Pataki got in, and along came his "Welfare to work" program. The experienced, educated care-givers at the home were gone, replaced by thugs and hoods. My brother's weight ballooned up again as all they know how to cook seems to be hot dogs and canned soup.

          On one visit, the door was opened by a man whose pants were sagging almost to his ankles. I assumed he was a resident and said "Why are you answering the door? Staff is supposed to open the door." Surprise!! He WAS staff! I suggested that he pull his pants up unless he enjoyed having people assume he was a client.

          My brother was thrown to the floor and kicked two years ago. The staff person was "reassigned," not fired. So now he's abusing some other helpless person.

          My brother's case manager made an impromptu visit to the home on a weekend. She caught the staff in the yard having a keg party while the clients were locked in the house. The case manager filed a report of neglect. SHE was fired.

          Overnight staff has been caught kicking the clients out of their beds and sleeping in them while the residents have to roam the house or curl up on a floor.

          Last summer, I drove up to Buffalo for a visit and saw one of the residents running up the street. I had to tell staff that they lost someone. Nobody there had even noticed.

          I'm told that these people have a union and cannot be fired. Wow! I am a union worker too, but my union isn't THAT strong. I'd have been gone long ago if I were that incompetent.
        165. Mike · Buffalo, NY · March 13th, 2011 3:14 pm
          My significant other has worked in one of these homes for nearly a decade. She has had her shoulder dislocated, her hand crushed by the grip of a larger, mentally handicap man, and was thrown into a wall and knocked out.

          Through all her years, she has no allegations of abuse, has risen through the ranks, and treats the members of her home like family, even bringing them home on Christmas. She receives state inspections every year and has a detailed log off all activities.

          As always with the Times, you report the extremes of behavior to draw readership and then present it as the norms. From my perspective, I push her to quit every week so she doesn't get injured again. But of course a story on her wouldn't get the outrage that sells papers, and who is concerned about putting issues in proper perspective when you can sit in an ivory tower, delve into an industry for a week or two, and proclaim to be experts on the field?
        166. ww.Lowen · MA · March 13th, 2011 3:14 pm
          It is a shame but sadly nothing new and I really don't know why it has not changed as yet. Must have something to do with oney and or poorly spent money. Maybe it is because these clients don't have voting power.
        167. walter Bally · vermont · March 13th, 2011 3:14 pm
          End union marxism now.
        168. Rob · Saratoga NY · March 13th, 2011 3:14 pm
          I work hard everyday to make positve changes in the lives of the people I care for. It brings tears to my eyes to see this in writing,knowing that the public paints me with the same brush.
        169. Diana Moses · Arlington · March 13th, 2011 3:15 pm
          I don't think we have yet developed "best practices," an understanding of the resources necessary to support them, a method for implementing them, and a system for monitoring their implementation.

          The problem reminds me of problems with our health care system -- in both cases, although the results we get from using the system as it is continually give us the feedback that the system is not working, we continue with virtually the same system without significant overhaul, as if just trying harder with the same system will yield the results we want.

          I have seen in group homes and other therapeutic settings that staff often get overwhelmed (including as a result of their own inadequately managed fears and maladaptive behaviors), use short-cuts to try to manage the people in their charge (adding to the problems and damaging the people they are trying to help), and need a lot more training, supervision, and support themselves.

          If we develop better practices, we still have the issue of how to provide the resources (financial and emotional, for example) to sustain them.

          I agree that a first step is to keep the situation in the public eye, even if it isn't clear to me what all the other steps are to addressing these problems. I will say with some frustration that even when family members are present, involved, and able to contribute ideas that might help improve things for all involved, it is very difficult to find a way to be heard and an avenue to bring the ideas to fruition.
        170. Mary · Colorado · March 13th, 2011 3:15 pm
          Take a close look at what is done in the name of "behavior modification" at the Judge Rotenburg School in Massacusetts, where New York sends many of of its most vulnerable children with disabities, at a very high tuition cost, to be tortured and tied down with repeated electric shocks administered by high school graduates if they're lucky and supervised by absentee psychologists, owned by a maniac who makes his money off of his long discredited "theory."
        171. maureen · Alaska/NY · March 13th, 2011 3:16 pm
          Horrible, rampant and needing a Super Hero. It is even worse in prisons. In prisons, no one cares...
        172. gmw · North Carolina · March 13th, 2011 3:17 pm
          I saw this coming forty years ago when the State Institutions closed in the guise of "humane grounds" when everyone knew it was to save money. Does anyone wonder why NY has such a high homeless population? The residents were thrown out of the state facilities and had no where to go. The group home experiment did exactly what I knew it would do; fail. 2000 group homes with an average resident level of 6 is not going to house all those that need a warm bed and all the related comforts of home PLUS the medical and psychological care. The buildings were there, the employee were there and some doctors. Oh yes, the CSEA was there and is the only thing still there! Should public employees need a union? Not in my book. Unions were started because COMPANY bosses treated them unfairly. In today's world there are plenty of laws and safeguards in place to protect the American worker. Especially government workers. What in NOT there are background checks, Physical and Psychological tests before hiring and regular AUDITING of the group homes and their employees by outside auditors, not other state employees. Even without a union, they will protect each other. Privatization with contributions (not unlike public schools) might work better. Set standards for hiring set infractions for firing. Remember working people contribute to the state funds. If NY state does not want to pay the bill for those that are helpless, step up and say so. Don't posture for politics sake on the backs of those that cannot talk back. Instead of fixing what was broken but still fixable, NY State closed the facilities in a axiom of throwing the baby out with the bath water. P.S. I was a resident of NY state for all of seven years of my life. The last 5 1/2 have been in NC. However, as every NY'r knows "you can take the girl out of NY but not NY out of the girl>" I am now 72.
        173. meden agan · nj · March 13th, 2011 3:18 pm
          I know of at least one NJ facility that the state of NY pays to provide NY residents similar appalling & unacceptable conditions. A long time acquaintance who worked there very recently was disgusted at the contrast between the debased lives of the residents of the facility and the obvious wealth of the owners. I suspect that these NY residents dropped in NJ are as good as abandoned. There is no motivation to help them recover and leave--that's just one less paycheck for the owners. I wonder if anyone even knows where they've been sent off to.
        174. kay · new york · March 13th, 2011 3:18 pm
          The lack of skilled doctors and trained help available to the most vulnerable in society has always been a tragedy in this country. We treat our chronically ill like lepers and as Congress strips them of even their paltry medical help, not a peep from the "don't tax me cause I don't care about anyone but me!" millionaire crowd. This country is losing it's moral compass and forgetting what it was that used to make this country great.
        175. db · ny · March 13th, 2011 3:20 pm
          I read this article and hate to admit that I do work for OPWDD. So much goes on that is ignored from client abuse to employee's abusing time! Not worth reporting to supervisor as nothing gets done about it. The only thing I have experienced is that they treat those who do steal time, not come to work, abuse the clients as if they were outstanding employees and they are the ones who seem to get the promotions. I was taught to "turn the other cheek"

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