Lawmakers question abuse and neglect of disabled residents

On Dec. 13, a Cook County judge ordered Disability Services of Illinois, a group home company whose state license was revoked in November after media reports of abuse and neglect, to release 18 resident adults with disabilities from the company’s care.

Lawmakers in a joint House-Senate hearing questioned Illinois Department of Human Services officials on Dec. 13 about a Chicago Tribune report of hundreds of cases in which abuse and neglect charges were investigated and cleared by group home employees.

Senate Republican members of the Senate Human Services Committee, noted that the Chicago Tribune’s investigation made clear that the problem occurred almost entirely during the administration of Gov. Pat Quinn. The Senators had requested that former DHS Secretaries Carol Adams and Michelle Saddler be asked to present testimony during the hearing. Neither Adams nor Saddler attended the meeting.

At the hearing, current DHS Secretary Jim Dimas outlined the steps the department has taken in the last two years to prevent tragic deaths like those detailed by the Chicago Tribune in November. According to Dimas, who was appointed by Gov. Rauner in May 2015, DHS has instituted more than a dozen reform measures to ensure proper care of 12,000 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Perhaps one of the most important reforms Dimas discussed is one which would provide the public with some access to previously sealed investigative files. According to Dimas, DHS is working with the office of the Illinois Attorney General to provide more information to families and guardians of those in DHS care.  

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