VOR to Meet with South Carolina Families and Participate at South Carolina Association of Residential Care Homes Conference

For Immediate Release: September 25, 2014
Julie Huso, Executive Director of VOR, a national organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, will represent VOR at the South Carolina Association of Residential Care Homes Conference on September 29, 2014.

“We know from our national advocacy that service options are decreasing,” said Huso. “That comes as a surprise to many families and advocates, but service cuts are resulting in fewer and fewer choices, especially when it comes to specialized care provided in residential settings.”
The South Carolina Association of Residential Care Homes (http://scarch.org/) represents assisted living, residential care facilities, home care, home health and hospice groups throughout the state, providing care to individuals with disabilities and the elderly.

Huso will also meet with families of residents of the Coastal Center in Summerville. Coastal Center is a licensed facility home providing specialized supports to more than 150 people with profound intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Families are the most effective voice for their disabled loved ones,” Huso said. “They know best. It is critical that families be on the frontlines educating legislators and state officials about the unparalleled, comprehensive and highly specialized care provided at Coastal and the State’s other Regional Center homes. These centers are a true community of residents and caring people.”

Austin State Supported Living Center Family Association Runs Ad Calling on Halt to Evictions

(Published in the Austin American Statesman, September 7, 2014
Front Page (A2), paid advertisement)


A State agency and some politicians have decided to immediately close down seven homes for the severely disabled on the campus of the Austin State Supported Living Center. These innocents are being “kicked out” of the Homes/Community that they have known for years and told to go find somewhere else to live in Texas – evicted through no fault of their own. The reason: a developer wants that land and has contributed to a number of politicians to have them do his bidding. The facts follow.


Read full ad


The Family Council of the East Central Georgia Regional Center (“Gracewood”) Responds to Federal Inspection Report


For Immediate Release: 
September 15, 2014

For More Information:
Theresa Senior, 706-339-3407
Ann Knighton, 706-993-6329

AUGUSTA - The Family Council represents the residents of Gracewood facility, a Medicaid-licensed Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICFs/IID). 

The Family Council is troubled by recent findings by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which in an inspection report is critical of the quality of care their family members receive at Gracewood.

Families have long pointed to robust federal oversight of ICF/IID homes as critical and a factor distinguishing Georgia’s ICFs/IID, including Gracewood, from community alternatives. ICFs/IID are subject to annual surveys involving eight conditions of participation with hundreds of standards to remain licensed.

“We are absolutely troubled by these findings,” said Theresa Senior, Vice President of the Family Council. “But we take great comfort in the oversight process that ensures our family members’ homes remain safe. The same is not true in the community where oversight is lacking and even, in some cases, non-existent. It took a media attention before the state and the Department of Justice got serious about the alarming tragedies in community settings involving those transferring from ICFs/IID.”

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution article described alarming rates of abuse and neglect of former ICF/IID residents. Forty such individuals died in community group homes, and a State’s own report cites thousands of hospitalizations, among other challenges such as law enforcement encounters, elopements and injuries.

Community transfers are due to the implementation of a federal settlement agreement between the State of Georgia and the United States Department of Justice. Transitions are now on hold as the State works to satisfy the Department of Justice that future transitions will be safe.

Families blame the implementation of the settlement for CMS’ findings.

“We are not aware of any other time in Gracewood’s long history in which CMS found Gracewood to be in violation,” remarked Ann Knighton, Past President and current officer of the Family Council. “The Settlement has led to the closure of other homes like Gracewood in our State. Understandably, staff morale is at an all-time low. Tenured staff are leaving.”

“The Family Council demands that Gracewood be fixed, not closed,” concluded Knighton.



Colorado: VOR to Present on Rights of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and their Families

For Immediate Release:
September 5, 2014
For More Information:
Julie Huso, Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
ARVADA – Julie Huso, a national advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, will give a free presentation on the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families at the Jefferson County Public Library at 7525 W. 57th Avenue in Arvada, Colorado at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, September 10, 2014. The public is welcome to attend.

Huso has served as the Executive Director of VOR, a national nonprofit advocacy organization for high quality care and human rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, for over five years. She has been involved in disability advocacy for more than 25 years.

Save our Regional Centers, a coalition of concerned families and advocates and an affiliate of VOR, is hosting the presentation. Wheat Ridge, Pueblo, and Grand Junction Regional Centers are state-operated licensed facility homes to about 250 of Colorado’s most profound disabled citizens.

A new law creates a Task Force to study and review the operations of the three centers and will consider whether any should be closed. Families of regional center residents are concerned about future closings, a trend facing other states.

“To families, the threat of closure is obvious,” said Ellen Laurence, who heads up the Save our Regional Centers coalition, is a member of the Task Force, and also serves as VOR’s Colorado State Coordinator. “Although the State has not decided whether or not to close our family members’ homes, they are studying the issue.”

VOR's Julie Huso Represents VOR at South Dakota Developmental Center’s Annual Celebration

For Immediate Release
September 3, 2014
REDFIELD - Julie Huso, Executive Director of VOR, a national organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, will attend the South Dakota Developmental Center’s annual Fall Festival celebration later this week in Redfield, South Dakota.

VOR advocates for high quality care and human rights for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) across the country. The South Dakota Developmental Center provides individualized treatment services and supports to people with developmental disabilities and challenging behaviors when these necessary services are not available in other settings.

Huso, who has served as VOR’s Executive Director for more than five years and has worked as a disability advocate for more than 25 years, will speak with families and staff about national issues impacting the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and spend the day enjoying the celebration.

“The South Dakota Developmental Center such a well-run and a beautiful home for its residents. It is a gem that South Dakota citizens should be very proud of,” said Huso. “South Dakota’s support for the center is a bright spot so unlike the service and funding challenges facing many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the country.”

An Open Invitation to Families and Advocates of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Fragmented, we are just whispers. United, we are a chorus.

The Lander Journal, August 20, 2014
By Shawn Humberson, VOR Wyoming State Coordinator

My name is Shawn Humberson. I am a State Co-Coordinator for VOR and a Friends of Wyoming Life Resource Center (WLRC) Board member.

My profoundly disabled aunt has lived at the WLRC for the past seven years after spending the first 34 years of her life at home and receiving services from community programs. She was one of the first enrolled in the Medicaid Waiver Program. I am one of her co-guardians. I also work as a home trainer in a community program.

As you can see, I am deeply, personally and professionally, vested in Wyoming’s intellectually and developmentally disabled (I/DD) population. From my perspective, our current and future DD population is at risk. The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is making critical changes across the board. These changes are in response to state legislation and new federal regulations. These changes are not necessarily in the best interests of the Developmentally Disabled.
Here in Wyoming, the DD has been fragmented into three segments: those living at home, those being served in community programs, and those who live at WLRC. Each segment, counter to each other, has been forced to grovel over funding and the quest for those rare dollars has caused dissention amongst the families of the I/DD population. While we’re bickering over who deserves the funding, the Department of Health is making changes in services that affect the quality of life for our loved ones.
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