Illinois State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) and the Murray Parents Association are heading to Chicago on December 13th for a joint House and Senate Human Services Committee hearing to discuss the abuse and neglect which took place at group homes for individuals with developmental disabilities. The committee scheduled the hearing following two investigative reports published in the Chicago Tribune concerning the abuse and neglect which took place in multiple Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs) otherwise called “group homes”.
“At the hearing we will discuss what went wrong and how to improve the safety and care for all individuals living in group homes,” said Rep. Meier. “Nothing can be done to bring back the lives lost or erase the abuse which occurred. However, the State is finally starting to listen by taking the necessary steps to properly care for and protect individuals living in group homes. During these hearings I will question the lack of oversight as well as discuss the need for southern Illinois to have a crisis center in order to help improve the safety and well-being of residents living in group homes.”
The Tribune reported in their story titled SUFFERING IN SECRET: Illinois hides abuse and neglect of adults with disabilities, identified 1,311 cases of documented harm since July 2011 and determined at least 42 deaths linked to abuse or neglect in group homes or their day programs over the last seven years. The Tribune articles came to light thanks to the Murray Parents Association working with the newspaper to expose the abuse and neglect which took place in group homes throughout the State.
“I expressed my concerns about the abuse and neglect occurring in group homes with the Department of Human Services dating back three years ago and the Inspector General in July 2014,” said Rep. Meier. “I warned them about the complaints I had received and that lives were at stake, but they turned their back. Not all group homes are bad, but they should all be the best at making sure their residents are safe and properly cared for.”
Since Representative Charlie Meier first took office he began to advocate for the proper care of individuals living in group homes and state operated developmental centers by changing state law. In February 2014, Meier introduced HB 5478 to require CILAs to be licensed annually instead of every three years. In February of this year, Meier introduced HB 5797 to require DHS to conduct unannounced or announced visits of group homes to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals residing under the care of a CILA and HB 5798 to require group homes to notify DHS when emergency calls are made from a CILA.
Rep. Meier added, “My concerns were not taken seriously by the State prior to January 2015. Thankfully, the Rauner administration and DHS Director James Dimas has been a breath of fresh air, they truly care and listen to my concerns. DHS has already began to implement some changes which need to be made in order to help prevent the horrific incidents of abuse and neglect from happening again. With that said, I won’t give up advocating for the best, safest care possible for our most vulnerable citizens. I hope the joint hearing on Tuesday will help further improve how the State cares for our most vulnerable residents.”