Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Reports of Shortcomings in GA's Progress Towards Compliance with Settlement

In this review of articles published since the start of 2017, we've collected stories that expose the need for further state action towards the goals outlined in the settlement agreement.

In this article, Alan Judd of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution examines the quality of care provided by the state-contracted care provider, ResCare. As the state transitions to full compliance with the settlement agreement, inpatients with developmental disabilities are transitioning to in-home care and group-home facilities, many managed by ResCare. But, as Judd reports, care provided by ResCare, a national for-profit company that is “the state’s largest provider of services for people with disabilities”, bears responsibility for various cases of abuse and severe neglect, some of which have resulted in deaths.

The Augusta Chronicle; April 30, 2017: State improving but concerns remain about care for patients moving out of Gracewood

In this article from The Augusta Chronicle, Tom Corwin reports on progress toward the community placement of developmentally disabled inpatients currently housed in the East Central Regional State Hospital. In order to satisfy the demands of the settlement agreement, over 200 patients living in East Central Regional Hospital must be placed in community care programs. Corwin reports, however, that the state has made slow progress towards this goal, and even at the current rate of progress, the state, in some cases, has failed to provide sufficient care for certain patients placed in the community.

Georgia Health News; May 2, 2017: Years after hospital closed, some former patients struggle for safe housing

In this article from Georgia Health News, Saleen Martin examines the struggle to find housing for patients transitioning into community based care in Rome, GA. In accordance with the settlement agreement, the Northwest Regional Hospital in Rome was closed in January 2011, and since the settlement was assumed in 2010, patients transitioning out of the hospital have sought safe and affordable housing. Martin, however, details obstacles many of these patients have faced, such as the limited availability of housing subsidies, overcrowding of group-home facilities and the hazards of living at certain properties. 

In this article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Alan Judd reports on issues facing an effective transition to full compliance with the settlement agreement. Among the issues Judd covers is the state’s failure to provide sufficient resources for patients transitioning to community based care. Judd reports on the limited availability of well-supported housing for patients with psychiatric disabilities, and he describes poor quality of care provided in group homes for patients with developmental disabilities (for more on group homes see AJC; April 10). Judd also mentions that advocates worry the Department of Justice, under new leadership, “may show little interest in enforcing Obama-era settlements such as the one with Georgia.”

The Philadelphia Tribune (reprint); May 12, 2017: Georgia still sending mentally ill people to homeless shelters

2017 Reports from the Independent Reviewer

Below we've provided links to three reports from the Independent Reviewer appointed to supervise the implementation of the Georgia DOJ Settlement Agreement. 

DOJ Files Complaint Over GNETS

In order to summarize GNETS developments from 2016, we've gathered news articles covering the progress of the lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice. We've also posted links to the letter of intent, press release and the complaint issued by the Department of Justice.

News Coverage

After eight months of unsuccessful negotiation, the Justice Department decides to sue the State of Georgia. Alan Judd reports on the issues under negotiation and the DOJ’s rationale for pursuing legal action.

Alan Judd reports on the State’s defense against the DOJ’s complaint. As Judd explains, the state’s attorneys claim that the federal government does not have standing to sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Department of Justice rebuts Georgia’s claim that the DOJ lacks standing, and they claim that resolving this dispute about standing will be excessively time intensive. Beyond this barrier to a timely resolution of the GNETS dispute, Judd notes that new leadership at the Department of Justice could entail further delay.

DOJ Documents

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Series on the GNETS

We're reviewing 2016 news coverage of the "Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support" or "GNETS". Here is a three part series written by Alan Judd for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; the series details various concerning features of the "psychoeducational" schools.
“Schools send disproportionate numbers of black children to programs already under fire for ‘warehousing’ students with behavioral disorders.”

“Educators wanted to subject Libby Beem to behavioral experimentation in Georgia’s unique system of psychoeducational schools. A courtroom showdown would determine Libby’s fate.”

Part 3; May 8, 2016; Physical restraint common at psychoeducational schools
“With a tiny sliver of students, special behavioral programs record five times more restraints than all other Georgia schools combined.”