The Arc New Jersey met with Majority staff from the state Senate and Assembly to discuss draft legislation in response to an audit of background checks for employees of community providers. The bill’s goal is to eliminate gaps in the background check requirements in order to ensure the health and safety of people with I/DD living in the community.
The Arc Massachusetts is continuing to advocate for passage of Nicky’s Law (formerly S.64/H.80, now S.2213/H.4026), which creates a registry of individuals against whom there is a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect of a person with I/DD by the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission and requires provider agencies to check the registry before hiring a new employee. As a result of the chapter’s efforts it has been reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs for The Arc Massachusetts, testified in favor of Nicky’s Law (S.64/H.80) at a hearing of the General Court’s Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. The bill creates a registry of individuals against whom there is a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect of a person with I/DD by the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission and requires provider agencies to check the registry before hiring a new employee. During her testimony, she stated: “As I sit here today, I think about my oldest son, Neil, who is making a transition next week into 24/7 services, where I will not be able to supervise who is with him day to day and every night. I just don’t have words strong enough to describe the importance of keeping my non-verbal, loving and vulnerable son and all of our sons and daughters safe. We must pass this overdue legislation now and implement it immediately.”
The Arc New Jersey supported and Governor Chris Christie signed A3386/S2711. The bill provides for more sharing of information regarding abuse and neglect between the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Additionally, it mandates that DCF conduct a child abuse registry check on every individual seeking employment at DCF, in facilities or programs licensed, contracted, regulated, or funded by DCF or DHS, or seeking to provide community-based services to individuals with developmental disabilities.
The Arc California and six other disability and aging organizations wrote a letter to Attorney General Xavier Becerra requesting that three items dealing with abuse of adults who are elderly or have disabilities be included in the 2018-2019 budget. The items were:
- Revival of the California Department of Justice’s “Face It, It’s a Crime” advertisement campaign that encouraged reporting of abuse of adults who are elderly or have disabilities. Reporting dropped significantly when the program stopped.
- Revision of the Department’s literature to note that crimes motivated by bias against disabilities are hate crimes.
- Revision of the Department’s literature to clarify that the term “dependent adult” includesmany adults with disabilities who live independently.
The Arc Massachusetts is advocating for the passage of Nicky’s Law (S 64/H 80), which will create a registry of individuals against whom there is a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect of a person with I/DD by the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission and requires provider agencies to check the registry before hiring a new employee.
The Chicago Tribune published a two-part series (part 1, part 2) about the troubling conditions inside Illinois group homes and the lack of proper oversight by the state, portraying the conditions as a natural result of deinstitutionalization. In response, Executive Director Tony Paulauski and Board President Terri Devine each wrote letters to the editor expressing the importance of community living and calling on legislators to reform the system and fund a living wage for direct support professionals. Paulauski wrote: “‘Suffering in Secret'” has identified serious problems, but it also should remind Rauner and legislators that Illinois can no longer continue to fund an obsolete institutional system at the expense of community services. It is time to close six of the seven fully operational state institutions in Illinois. It is time to invest those resources into home- and community-based services. It is time for Illinois to step up and transform the disability system here in Illinois like Indiana and 14 other states that have closed those obsolete state institutions.”
The Arc of Colorado advocated for the passage of HB1254, which requires the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board to provide a training curriculum on abuse and exploitation of individuals with I/DD who are 18 or over. Governor Hickenlooper recently signed this bill into law.
Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a groundbreaking criminal justice bill that The Arc of California fought to help pass over the last two years. AB 1272 helps crime victims with I/DD by notifying licensing agencies of misconduct by their licensees and requiring investigations. It will also aid in the prosecution of alleged abusers by requiring courts to make reasonable efforts to assist prosecuting attorneys in avoiding more than one case involving certain crimes against people with disabilities and other cases on the same day. This will help district attorneys assign trained, experienced prosecutors to these often complex and difficult cases.