A series of statewide public hearings aimed at carefully examining the quality of care and safety measures in homes for individuals with developmental disabilities will be conducted by Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz, chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, chair of the Committee on Codes and Assemblyman Jonathan Bing, chair of the Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation. The hearings will begin June 3 in Buffalo.
The hearings were scheduled as a result of a New York Times article published on March 12, 2011, which chronicled allegations of abuse and mistreatment of residents with developmental disabilities in group homes. The purpose of the hearings is to examine state and regulatory oversight of residential programs and facilities licensed by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), review current investigative policies and procedures regarding incident reporting, and explore additional safety measures to help protect the homes' residents.
In a recent letter to Ortiz, Lentol and Bing, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called on the three chairs to conduct the hearings throughout New York State in order to give everyone who utilizes services an opportunity to have their voices heard and to work together towards meaningful reform.
"Individuals with developmental disabilities are among the most vulnerable in our communities," said Ortiz (D-Brooklyn). "As Chair of the Assembly Mental Health Committee, I welcome the Speaker's support of these statewide public hearings to investigate the allegations of abuse and to identify corrective measures to ensure the safety of all individuals with disabilities."
"Accountability, assistance and regulations are needed to make OPWDD group homes effective facilities for their residents," said Lentol (D-Brooklyn). "The acts described in the article taint the reputation and public perception of important programs and individuals who have chosen to dedicate their lives to providing care to this population. These hearings will provide invaluable information that will help ensure the safety and well-being of individuals with developmental disabilities."
"I urge everyone to make his or her voices heard at these hearings," said Bing (D-Manhattan). "Your personal experiences, insight and concerns are vital in determining which actions should be taken to help protect individuals with developmental disabilities in our state. Together, we can help prevent further victimization."
Hearings will take place:
Friday, June 3 at 10:30 a.m.
Buffalo Common Council Chambers.
City Hall, 13th floor
65 Niagara Square
Thursday, June 9, at 10:30 a.m.
Little Theater, Roosevelt Hall
Farmingdale State College, SUNY
2350 Broadhollow Road
Friday, June 10, at 10:30 a.m.
Assembly Hearing Room 1923
Monday, June 13 at 10:00 a.m.
Hamilton Hearing Room B
Legislative Office Building