(Albany, NY) –New York State Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz, Chair of the Assembly Mental Health Committee, is pleased to announce the passage of a package of bills aimed to protect those with developmental disabilities in New York State. The comprehensive package tackles many of the concerns and issues raised during the four public hearings that took place earlier this month:
- A.8127-A (Ortiz) – limits the amount of hours a direct care employee can work in a seven day work week;
- A.8322 (Schroeder) - reinforces that the DDSO ombudsman be an independent advocate by making them an employee of the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities. Currently, the ombudsman is an employee of OPWDD;
- A.8323 (Bing) – ensures that employees of developmental disability facilities receive adequate training regarding patient safety;
- A.8324 (Ortiz) - ensures that abuse and neglect investigations involving an employee continue whether or not the employee resigns prior to the completion of the investigation;
- A.8325 (Ortiz) - mandates immediate reporting of violent crimes to law enforcement (within 24 hours);
- A8330 (Weisenberg) – requires OPWDD to supply certain information to providers when a criminal background check is requested of a prospective employee or volunteer in an effort to end the practice of hiring someone who has previously worked in a OPWDD facility and has a history of abuse and neglect of individuals with developmental disabilities.
“The developmentally and physically disabled community of New York State is our most vulnerable community. We, as legislators and simply as decent human beings, need to protect them from any type of cruelty or abuse. We cannot allow these individuals to be subjected to negligence, disrespect, or physical and mental attacks,” stated Assemblyman Ortiz.
This package of bills has received strong support and now, having passed the Assembly, will move on to the Senate. “I am confident that our State’s Senators will do the right thing and bring these important pieces of legislation to the floor for a vote. Together, we can make New York State a safer place for our developmentally disabled citizens,” continued Ortiz.
“My son, who is developmentally disabled, experienced both verbal and physical abuse at a group home,” Weisenberg said. “No one should ever endure that kind of mistreatment, especially our most vulnerable New Yorkers. This legislation will help protect individuals with disabilities at these institutions and ensure they receive the quality care they deserve,” continued Weisenberg.
Michael Carey – the father of Jonathan Carey said the following:
“I would like to thank Speaker Silver, Mental Health Chairman Assemblyman Ortiz and his wonderful staff, Assemblyman Weisenberg, Lentol, Bing, Schroeder, Abinanti, and Assemblyman Rivera for their leadership and their hard work and I would also like to thank the entire New York State Assembly for overwhelmingly passing 6 new bills last night that are first steps towards further reforming New York State’s mental health care system.
Following two New York Times in depth investigative reports revealing major systemic problems of abuse and neglect of vulnerable children and adults with disabilities in residential placements, the New York State Assembly held four public hearings and followed up with direct action. These are important steps to better protecting people with disabilities and I continue to look forward to working with the Assembly to bring further needed reforms. My sincere hope now is that the New York State Senate follows by passing all these bills and Governor Cuomo signs them into law swiftly. We must all do what is right and just and properly care for all people with disabilities that tragically are extremely vulnerable and susceptible to abuse and neglect.”