Georgia, developmental disabilities
A report finds the state of Georgia has not been holding up its side of a DOJ disagreement to help people with developmental disabilities. (Photo: Brian Turner via Flickr)

Georgia Found Neglectful of Caring for People With Developmental Disabilities

The U.S. District Court in Georgia reported they found the state negligible when it comes to protecting people with developmental disabilities. The Peach State is not holding up their end of the bargain they made with the U.S. Department of Justice to improve the services offered in non-institutional settings to people with disabilities. They are failing when it comes to providing housing for people with mental illness or disabilities.

Patients with disabilities are dying while in state care and the blame fall squarely on the shoulders of staff members.

Elizabeth Jones, the independent reviewer who is in charge of tracking the state’s progress on this manner, said in an interview with WABE, “There remain numerous specific obligations in the agreements that have not been fulfilled, as required, for a recommended finding of substantial compliance.”

Georgia is also being accused of being slow on reviewing cases and implementing the correct actions quickly, which is now putting the people with disabilities at risk.

This agreement stems from a 2010 settlement, when Georgia agreed to implement services that offered people with mental illness and development or intellectual disabilities. The services implemented would offer community settings, not just state hospitals.

In the beginning of 2019, state officials requested an end for federal oversight of this settlement.

Kate Brady, a woman who is on the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities said to WABE, “It would be a terrible loss for Georgia to be without the oversight of this settlement, and it is of tremendous use to have the independent reporter reviewing that state of our compliance.”

Commissioner of Georgia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Judy Fitzgerald, expressed her frustration to the conclusions made by the independent review to take away oversight by state officials.

“DBHDD remains committed to improving the lives of Georgians with mental illnesses and intellectual and developmental disabilities,” she said in the article. “We do this because it is the right thing to do, with or without federal oversight or monitoring by an independent reviewer.”

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