August 10, 2018
VOR Weekly News Update
VOR is a national organization that advocates for high quality care and human rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
VOR promises to empower you to make and protect quality of life choices for individuals with developmental disabilities
VOR and YOU:
The Press and Us

A small online news service in Connecticut ran a series of articles this week, ostensibly about how the state's financial problems affect non-profits that offer a variety of services to people in the CT, and how they need more support from the public, religious groups, and the State. While the 10-article series covered a number of non-profits, the focus of the reporting was limited to one topic.

What this series really amounted to was this year's forum for the opponents of Southbury Training School. Last year, they funneled $50,000 through the CT Council on Disabilities and the ARC of CT pay for a program on Connecticut Public Television wherein they made their claims that everyone does better in the community and that closing all ICFs will magically provide services for people on the waiting list. All of this is opinion dressed up as news, and none of the people involved in this story have ever bothered to visit Southbury Training School or any of the three remaining Regional Centers.

We've heard this all before. We know different. We've seen tens of thousands of beds disappear from ICFs over the last three decades while waiting lists have grown at an even greater rate. We have seen the differences between what is offered at ICFs and at HCBS waiver settings. We know that one size does not fit all and that the needs of the higher functioning members of the IDD population have little in common with the needs of the most severely intellectually disabled.

We are not going to link to these stories this week. Our members have read this before, and we don't want this news outlet to get any more "hits" than they already have. Instead, what we are going to do is remind our readers of how important our contacts with the press are, how much power the press has, and the need to find reporters who are interested in all sides and nuances of the stories they write, and to work with those reporters. It's not a matter of fake news - it's about good, responsible reporting.

So once again...
Press Contacts Needed
If you know of a media outlet, or a newspaper or television reporter who has covered issues involving people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, either favorably or unfavorably , please send us contact information so that we can add to our database.

Our goal is to find journalists who have been sympathetic to VOR's perspective, that we can contact with state and national issues of interest. We also want to know which outlets have exhibited a bias against ICF's, Intentional Communities, Sheltered Workshops, and other issues of concern to our families.
If you have any connection with a reporter or media outlet in your state or region, please send their name, media outlet, and contact information to us at
State News
New Jersey - Murphy Administration Demands Action from Major Group Home Operator after Safety Problems Revealed
By Susan K. Livio, NJ Advance Media, August 9, 2018

Gov. Phil Murphy's administration has halted new admissions at New Jersey's largest group home operator for people with developmental disabilities and demanded "immediate correction of all concerns" involving safety and staffing shortages uncovered in 18 months of inspections.

The state Department of Human Services intends to appoint an independent monitor and to continue random unannounced inspections at all 62 properties operated by for-profit Bellwether Behavioral Health, state Department of Human Services spokesman Tom Hester said.

The state stopped referring people to Bellwether on July 12, Hester confirmed, a decision revealed after an Aug. 3 report aired on public radio station WNYC about ongoing problems at a group home in Branchburg.

"The New Jersey Department of Human Services demands the best services for the individuals it serves. To that end, the Department -- aware of concerns regarding Bellwether -- conducted surprise inspections at Bellwether facilities last year, followed by additional re-inspections this year," Hester said in a statement.

According to the report, Bellwether homes in Branchburg in Somerset County drew 156 rescue squad calls over two years, including seven involving employees accused of assaulting residents. Police are routinely called several times a day to intervene when staffing is low, the report said.

In addition to having the largest capacity of any group home provider in New Jersey, at 494 beds, Bellwether has also recorded the largest number of allegations of abuse and neglect. According to state data from March 2017 to March 2018, the state investigated 71 complaints, and substantiated 33. Six residents were repeatedly victimized, the data said.

Texas - Denton Woman to Receive Health Services after Guardianship Hearing
By Caitlin Jones, The Denton Record-Chronicle, August 9, 2018
A local resident with Down syndrome and a degenerative nerve disease may finally get the added care she needs, but it comes at a cost to her mother.

A Denton County probate court granted temporary guardianship of 44-year-old Janis Danko to Courtney Carey, the manager of Denton County MHMR’s Guardianship Program. Janis has several health problems including tardive dyskinesia, a nerve condition that diminishes control of the limbs.

She had lived with her 80-year-old mother, Margaret Danko, in their east Denton home, but now will reside in a local group home for people with disabilities. Carey said during her testimony that Danko will still be involved in Janis’ life, just not as the woman’s primary caregiver.

“We’ll take care of her, but we have to do it
together,” Carey told Danko after the hearing.

In a July Denton Record-Chronicle story, Danko outlined her fight to get Janis into the Denton State Supported Living Center. The woman said Denton County MHMR hadn’t responded to multiple inquiries for help since February.

“MHMR has done nothing but argue and threaten,” Danko said in court on Thursday.

The agency, citing privacy laws, declined to comment for the July story. However, an employee refuted Danko’s claims in court.

Governor Drops Medicaid Adviser who Spoke Up for Disabled Iowans after Services were Cut
By Tony Leys, Des Moines Register, August 7, 2018
Gov. Kim Reynolds has dropped an outspoken Medicaid adviser who repeatedly voiced concerns about how private management companies were treating Iowans with disabilities.

David Hudson spent two years as co-chairman of Iowa's Medical Assistance Advisory Council, whose duties include monitoring the state's shift to private management of its $5 billion Medicaid program.

“I felt that I was asking the questions the governor should have been asking,” he said in an interview at his Windsor Heights home. “… I guess I pushed back too hard or something.”

A spokeswoman for Reynolds declined to comment on Hudson’s contention that he was pushed out for being outspoken. The governor on Tuesday announced four new appointees to the council. They did not include Hudson.

Hudson, 61, served as a lobbyist for then-Gov. Terry Branstad in the 1990s. He said Branstad, a fellow Republican, appointed him as co-chairman of the Medicaid council two years ago because of his experience caring for his profoundly disabled son, Matthew. Matthew, 30, is covered by Medicaid, the joint state and federal health-care program.

Hudson said he initially supported Branstad's 2015 decision to hire private companies to manage care
for the 600,000 Iowans on Medicaid. But he said he felt a duty to speak up when he saw those companies cut crucial services to his son and other Iowans with disabilities.

Hudson believes his detailed inquiries led Branstad's successor, Reynolds, to deny his request for reappointment when his council term expired June 30.
Reynolds and other supporters of private Medicaid management say it is leading to more efficient, effective care. Critics say privatization has led to drastic cuts in services for disabled people and piles of unpaid bills to the agencies that provide their care.

Hudson said he still believes in the concept of private Medicaid management, and he didn’t set out to make waves as co-chairman of the advisory council. But he believed his assignment was to represent the interests of disabled Iowans and their families.

In a council meeting last November, Hudson sharply questioned the circumstances leading to the death of Todd Mouw, an Orange City man who was paralyzed from the waist down. Mouw’s widow had blamed the 53-year-old man’s death on his managed-care company’s unwillingness to pay for the kind of care that had let him remain in their home for years.

New York - Crisis in Adult Care Giver Industry
By Ali Touhey, WKBW Buffalo, August 7, 2018
There’s a shortage in western New York for direct support workers who are responsible for caring for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Heritage Christian Services has dozens of openings across 14 counties.

Sasi has close to 100 vacancies across the three counties it serves.

Reps for both non-profits said state funding is part of the problem.

“With the minimum wage moving up for food service workers and state employees, we're competing with the same population to try and retain people and recruit people,” said Heritage
Christian Services Regional VP, Chuck Collard.

State funding for worker wages increased by 6.5 percent this year. That helps nonprofits attract applicants. Hourly rates start between $11 and $13 an hour.

But, there's no word whether that funding will be available in the future.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”    - Mother Teresa

From our Friends at ACCSES:
H.R. 5658 - Please sign on!
  • Congressman Glenn Grothman (R-WI-06) recently introduced the Workplace Choice and Flexibility for Individuals with Disabilities Act (H.R. 5658). This bill will restore common sense to the definition of competitive integrated employment and provide increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities. People with disabilities across the country have been denied placements in high-paying jobs because of the regulations that implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). ACCSES supports expanding opportunities and keeping a full array of options available. We were honored to work with Congressman Grothman and his staff to help draft this legislation. Go to the ACCSES Action Center and tell your Members of Congress to cosponsor and pass this important bill to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities!
Our Friends at the American Health Care Association (AHCA) / National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL)
Invite you to attend the
2018 Convention
October 7-10
San Diego, CA

Tuesday, October 9 is ID/DD Day
For more information go to

836 South Arlington Heights Road #351 Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Toll Free: 877-399-4867 Fax: 877-866-8377
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