Developmentally disabled adults who reside in group homes throughout the nation are often easy prey for physical, psychological and sexual abuse, and those who live in Illinois are no exception. A recent investigation by the Chicago Tribune uncovered a botched system in the state, revealing numerous incidents of neglect, abuse, death, and secrecy.
More than 11,400 developmentally disabled people currently live in Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs) statewide. These group homes, which typically provide accommodations for eight or fewer adults in ordinary houses or apartments, cost about $84,000 per person each year- compared with costs of about $219,000 for an institutionalized resident. In addition to achieving cost savings, it was hoped that transitioning people into residential settings would enable them to experience fuller lives.
The Illinois strategy to shift thousands of low-income, disabled adults into private group homes instead of placing them in larger, more expensive institutional facilities, however, has backfired tremendously.
Inadequate Staffing and Resources
The state, which is ranks among the five worst states in the nation for group home funding, has failed to increase reimbursement rates for group home staffing for almost nine years. This has led to frontline care being delegated to inexperienced caregivers who lack adequate training. Not surprisingly, the investigation revealed that the majority of injuries and deaths in group homes were associated with inadequate staffing, failure to monitor victims, covering up mistakes, missed medications, and failure to realize the complexity of certain disabilities.
Resident-to-Resident Abuse in Group Homes
Downsizing throughout the state has led to violent individuals being placed alongside fragile victims in group homes, and the mix has resulted in dangerous, and sometimes deadly consequences. Records show that many victims are physically and sexually abused in group homes at the hands of other residents. Although there are currently no state laws that prevent group homes from placing violent residents with those who are fragile or defenseless, providers can still be held liable when they neglect to protect victims.
Many Group Home Residents Suffer in Silence
Unfortunately, many disabled victims are unable to comprehend the extent of abuse they endure, much less communicate their suffering to those who can help defend them. In many cases, even reported incidents are ignored. Friends and family members of group home residents who suspect abuse and neglect are urged to report these incidents to authorities and closely monitor investigations to help ensure the safety of disabled adults.