As the parents of Jonathan Carey and advocates for the disabled, we would like to give you an update of the successes we have had in advocating for changes for the disabled to date:
- Jonathan’s Law allows parents and legal guardians access to incident reports and investigative records of allegations of abuse. (These were previously “sealed” and withheld by the State for decades.) Under the law, incidents affecting the health or safety of a disabled person receiving services must be reported to parents or legal guardians (qualified persons) within 24 hours. The Director of the facility must meet with the qualified person(s) within 3 days to discuss the incident, and also supply them with a written report of actions taken by the facility to address the incident, as well as provide the incident report (names redacted only) within 10 days. Upon written request, all investigative records must be released to the qualified person(s) within 21 days, with only names or identifying information redacted.
- Jonathan’s Law created new Mental Hygiene Law sections 33.23 and 33.25, and applies to all facilities operated or certified by the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD), the Office of Mental Health (OMH), and the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).
- An Amendment to Jonathan’s Law allows qualified Person(s) access to incident reports and investigative records retroactive back to January of 2003, with a written request. The amendment for retroactive records is only valid until December of 2010. (Jonathan’s Law is Permanent)
- The withholding of food/meals from the disabled for behavior management has now been banned by law as of 2008. (I’m sure most people thought this cruel and inhumane practice was already against the law.)
- The Abuse Standard for all children in residential care has now been changed. The standard, which is found in Social Services Law 412, previously required a child to be at serious risk of death or have protracted damage or disfigurement, or be sexually abused, to even be considered abused. By using this standard, the State has been able to “Unfound” countless cases of abuse of the disabled and children in care facilities statewide. The new definition adds several types of abuse including when a child is kicked, punched, burned, choked, smothered, shoved, and several others, regardless of the level of injuries sustained by the child. ***The new definition will not only protect the developmentally disabled, but all children within the Social Services System, including children in foster care statewide! This is a great victory for children and the disabled!
- A bill was passed this session which requires the State to study the issue of overtime of direct care workers this year, to make recommendations for regulations. (There are currently no statewide regulations of overtime of direct care workers. The man who killed Jonathan worked 197.5 hours in just the 2 weeks before he killed Jonathan.)
- ***This coming year we plan to advocate for surveillance cameras in all facilities and transport vehicles of the disabled, regulations on overtime, required drug testing, better background checks, stiffer penalties for abusers, and for cases of physical or sexual abuse of the disabled to be reported to the police.