The recent settlement by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities with the plaintiffs in the Union Avenue IRA re: abuse and neglect does not address the root of the problem.
In the settlement, OPWDD relinquishes ownership of the group home to a private not for profit entity. The lead lawyer for the plaintiffs stated ” We lost all faith the the agency ( OPWDD ) to run the house effectively. The most important thing the families want is for their loved ones to be safe, and they have no confidence that the state would keep them safe”.
Is this a solution to a systemic problem in which direct service workers, and their oversight is perceived as a big part of the problem? We have created a punitive culture, one whose role is to prosecute and punish DSP’s and their authorities.
What can we can do foster a DSP culture which is energetic, dedicated, and progressive?
Recruit high school graduates or the equivalent? Develop management tracks for training? Offer more aggressive tax benefits and loan forgiveness to people willing to work as DSP’s for a specified number of years. Offer scholarships for DSP’s who study and move up the ladder. Create a positive culture. Consider loosening work visas for DSP’s. Allow for federal and state waiver dollars for intentional communities.
Social work is a business. It used to be the work of government.