Michael Virtanen, Associated Press - February 9, 2014
Here is some … perplexing? … news to update the apparently goodish news about how New York State is investigating and prosecuting abuse in institutions for people with developmental disabilities. It seems that New York State’s new abuse investigation agency is being … or appearing … cagey about reporting data on the cases that have been reported and especially on the progress and outcome of cases. Officials are citing confidentiality for ongoing cases, but my sense is that nobody is really looking for results on individual cases, by name, but rather statistical reports on what is being done with reports of abuse.
Oddly enough, having worked adjacent to similar types of state agencies, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the apparent stonewalling is largely a matter of miscommunication about what, exactly, outside advocates want to know. Perhaps families involved are asking for information on specific cases … information that is too soon to report. Maybe that is being conflated with other advocates who just want to know not only how many calls and tips have come in, but how many of them have been deemed unfounded, how many are under investigation, how many are being prosecuted, how many care providers are on suspension, how many have been fired, etc.
The other thing I wonder about is whether the new agency got a flood of transparently false, malicious accusations. Maybe not. But, the same kinds of employees who could happily stage “fight clubs” with developmentally disabled group home residents might also feel comfortable reporting innocent coworkers they just don’t like, or took the promotions they wanted, to the anonymous tip line. Like I said, maybe it’s just my nasty, misanthropic mind, but I do hope the agency has some effective ways to quickly identify entirely false claims.
Either way, whether the agency is hiding something or not, they should figure out a better way of regularly reporting data on their work.
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