Among those of us who care deeply for and about people with developmental disabilities, I hope to hear emerge a new voice, ours, rising together for the benefit of all, harmonizing with reason, respect and hope, and transcending divisions, giving birth to a new era of creative cooperation.

Toward this potential, DD EXCHANGE is for conversation, civil sounding off, sharing of stories, experience, information, resources, and inspiration, giving and receiving support, and creative problem solving.

Finding Your Way Around

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Friday, January 7, 2011


No doubt, you already are acquainted with the recently reported sexual assaults on defenseless people with developmental disabilities living in Los Angeles. (Click the title of this blog to read the CNN report.) Over 100 hours of video taped sexual assaults were made available, anonymously, to authorities. How does this happen? Who protects defenseless residents?

I would be interested in hearing from people whose loved ones are cared for in residential venues in the general community how they find the oversight of them. Is it adequate? In the RHCs of Washington State, abuse is not impossible, but it is unlikely and, if perpetrated, it is likely to be caught and stopped quickly, due both to reporting requirements and reporting practices that protect the identity of reporters.

Who is there to catch and report such abuses in private, semi-isolated residences? Especially in situations where there are only one or two caregivers for several residents per shift? What safeguards are there to assure that such abuses don't get hidden for fear of making the facility look bad? In Washington, abuses that are reported are investigated, but the quality control system for general community residences for people with dd that should be protective of residents, in fact, depends on reports. This means the abuse must already have occurred!

A recent law requiring background checks for caregivers is a step in the right direction, but "community" caregivers' wages can be very low, meaning that young people, barely out of high school, may be the only people able to take such work. When this is the case, the records of young offenders will have been wiped clean.

Issues of safety and quality assurance are major problems that would have to be solved before I would ever be able to consider moving Kathy, my sister, from an RHC.

What is your experience &/or perspective?


I have been silent on this blog for some months in large part because I have been struggling with an internal conflict: Lofty Ideal vs Reality. My desire and belief that we, as advocates for people with developmental disabilities should be able to come together and, taking into account our differences, work out mutually agreeable systems for providing the best supports for all concerned vs the reality that some organizations, biased bureaucrats and elected officials are dedicated to closure of state-run campus communities for people with dd so that they are not available even to those who need and want them. Often they cite horrific conditions of such facilities in days long bygone, but usually they claim that too much money is spent on people in residential habilitation centers (RHCs) . What I hear, listening to them is that they don't think the people who need the services in the RHCs are as needful or deserving as those higher level functioning persons who live in general community settings. The subject of income for community providers is usually not discussed nor is the economy of scale value of the RHCs.

Because those people use their organizations and positions to push to have RHCs closed, I find myself in the position of defending RHCs. Finally, I have decided that it is important to use this blog as a resource to put out the facts and perspectives that I and others find salient to the discussion. So, here I am back, again inviting you to join in discussion, hoping that you will write, not just in response to what you see written, but also to initiate topics that are important to you. You can do that by sending your writing to me for publication: ddexchanges (at) gmail.com.