New Jersey Survey on Residential Choice

VOR's Past President, the late-Robin Sims, held a press conference in her state capitol to announce the results of a residential survey that she helped spearhead. The survey was simple. It was sent to family members and guardians of New Jersey State Developmental Center residents. The survey asked recipients if they were happy with the current placement of their loved ones, or would prefer community-based care instead. The results were overwhelmingly (96%) in support of continued ICFs/MR placement. The press conference at the state capitol was an effort to reach lawmakers and the press with these statistics, and point out the serious flaws of earlier state surveys and studies that have been used to justify downsizing and closure proposals. In coalition with many families, Robin fought fire with fire, developing a survey for families and guardians that asked just one simple, unbiased question.

A Press Release was issued and The Star Ledger featured the event and survey.

Videos from the press conference are also available: http://vimeo.com/8177809 (Sims, intro), http://vimeo.com/8057837 (Sims, extended), http://vimeo.com/8059191 (Rocco Mazza, sibling), http://vimeo.com/8177135 (Assemblywoman Huttle on Choice), and http://vimeo.com/8177251 (NJ State Senator Bucco on Choice).

 

At Home in Georgia; Respecting Choice and Ensuring Safe Care

November 19, 2013 (submitted)
Augusta Chronicle * Letter to the Editor
Ann S. Knighton, VOR President and President of East Central Georgia Regional Hospital

Dr. Kenneth Fuller’s editorial (“Closure of Georgia hospitals endangers mental health care,” Nov. 17) is like water in a dry desert: refreshingly right and necessary, but painfully scarce. I share completely his concerns about Georgia’s misguided effort to evict fragile, disabled citizens from their homes.

In 2010, without legislative approval or notice to individuals and their families, and contrary to the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision supporting choice, Georgia and the U.S. Department of Justice entered a settlement agreement that requires the closure of Georgia “hospitals” – specialized residential programs (ICFs/IID) for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).  Aptly called “safety nets” by Dr. Fuller, Georgia’s hospitals provide life-sustaining care to Georgia’s most fragile citizens.

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Georgia Families Issue Resolution Opposing Settlement

The East Central Georgia Family Council, representing residents of the "Gracewood" ICF/MR, have issued a Resolution in opposition to the Settlement Agreement between the Governor of Georgia and the United States Department of Justice, which if implemented will displace more than 10,000 people with mental illness and mental retardation from licensed psychiatric and ICFs/MR settings in Georgia.

"The United States Department of Justice has undermined the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision by being forceful and aggressive with regard to community transitions and thereby omitting the element of resident choice, whether that be a community or ICF/MR setting," states the Resolution. "[I]f everyone is forced to accept community living, then no one has choice."

The East Central Georgia Family Council, in furtherance of the Resolution, vows to "step up to the plate, rise to the occasion, remain advocates, and reckon with the Governor, and the U.S. Department of Justice, with passion, zeal, zest and steadfastness on behalf of Georgia’s most frail population with mental retardation and developmental disabilities."

Click here to read the full Resolution.

 

Illinois Judge sides with choice, rejects settlement

Update: Judge accepts revised settlement; preserves choice

Illinois Judge sides with choice; rejects proposed settlement and decertifies class

Residents of Illinois’ private facilities for persons with developmental disabilities and their families celebrated an early-July decision in Ligas v. Maram. The lawsuit, filed by Illinois’ Protection & Advocacy against the State of Illinois, has concerned families of private facility residents after learning of its filing in 2005. The lawsuit, filed by just nine plaintiffs, was filed on behalf of a class of 6,000 people.

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2010 VOR State Report Forum

VOR’s Annual Conference included a State Report Forum.  Reports from 15 states were received. Where available, a more detailed report is also linked.

ARKANSAS
By Alan Fortney, State Coordinator

DOJ filed a lawsuit against the Conway Development Center in Jan. 2009 after 6 years of investigation/negotiations. Arkansas is represented by attorney Tom York, and Robin Sims is an expert witness for the state. In May 2010, DOJ filed a separate lawsuit against all 6 development centers in Arkansas claiming the state is out of compliance with the ADA. The Arkansas P&A, like other states, have used our case as a “rallying cry.”   On May 18, 2010, Gov. Mike Beebe announced his intention to close the Alexander HDC due to losing Medicaid funding for being out of compliance with CMS, but has vowed to support the other five centers.

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Bill Choslovsky and Scott Mendel, attorneys who championed choice in Illinois to receive prestigious award

VOR, a national organization who participated as Amicus Curiae in Ligas v. Hamos, offers its congratulations

For Immediate Release, November 8, 2013

Elk Grove Village - Under any circumstance, acts of generosity deserve recognition, especially when it is not sought.

On November 15, Bill Choslovsky and Scott Mendel, two Chicago attorneys who were motived by doing right and not by recognition, will get the honor they deserve.

Both will be receiving the Sister Rosemary Connelly Service Medallion at the annual Misericordia Heart of Mercy Ball for their pro bono legal representation of Misericordia in Ligas v. Hamos, a class action lawsuit that threatened to close private facility homes of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) across Illinois.

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