Editor’s Note: The following statement was issued by the Southbury Training School Home & School Association.
The families and guardians of the Southbury Training School Home & School Association are calling for a comprehensive investigation of the state's community-based care system in the wake of the apparent abuse of an intellectually disabled resident of a group home in East Hartford that was captured on a videotape delivered this week to the news media.
We believe the Options Unlimited group home videotape combined with recent allegations of substandard care at residences operated by Humanidad in the Hartford highlight the need for a system-wide review of the Department of Developmental Services group home licensure and inspection process. The review should also extend to the screening and training of staff in Connecticut group homes.
STS families and guardians are feeling under increasing pressure from the Malloy administration to move their loved ones from STS into this same community-based system. We would urge state lawmakers to initiate this investigation.
While abuse allegations such as those concerning a caregiver at the Options Unlimited group home occur in both privately and publicly run facilities, our concern is that the widely dispersed, privately operated group home system is particularly vulnerable to the problem of abuse and neglect. States around the country have been unable to monitor privately run facilities as closely as they oversee and inspect publicly operated facilities such as STS. In addition, direct-care staff in privately operated group homes tend to be paid less, receive lower benefits, and have less training and higher turnover than their counterparts in publicly run facilities.
While the Malloy administration has pledged to thoroughly investigate the Options Unlimited allegations, we believe a more comprehensive review of the entire group home system is needed. In addition to questions about the thoroughness of the DDS licensure and inspection process for group homes, we believe the process also lacks transparency. Group home licensure reports are heavily redacted and provide little information to the public about problems that may have been found in the operation of individual residences.