Open Letter to Governor Jerry Brown:
It can take a tragedy to remind me of how truly vital our work is at PathPoint.
On April 7, a report was issued by the Center for Investigative Reporting in Berkeley, California, as a follow up to its 2012 exposé on uninvestigated/unpunished crimes against residents of California’s state hospitals for people with developmental disabilities. In its earlier report, the Center for Investigative Reporting’s data was based on family complaints and judicial records. Requests for data from the Department of Developmental Services and the Department of Health Services under the Freedom of Information Act resulted in documentation that was so highly redacted as to be rendered meaningless. The Center for Investigative Reporting filed suit, and, ultimately, the California Supreme Court compelled the state to furnish the data requested. This week’s report was the result of that data analysis. To give you a hint of the content, the title of the April 7 release is: “13 Deaths Blamed on Abuse and Neglect at California State-Run Homes.”
The content is horrific to say the least. What I find absolutely appalling is that the Brown administration is content to continue funding these state hospitals (called Developmental Centers, or DCs, in California) in spite of the growing evidence that these facilities are incapable of protecting the 1,010 people now living within them. The federal government itself has had sufficient quality concerns to discontinue federal participation in the funding of all 11 Intermediate Care Facility units at the Sonoma Developmental Center effective May 7, 2015. That’s big. But it may not be the end of the story. There are also de-certification proceedings still under appeal against DC units at Fairview, in Costa Mesa, as well as Porterville. The federal findings and this report strongly document that the state cannot meet basic health and safety quality standards!
At PathPoint and similar organizations, the men and women we support, many of them former residents of the developmental centers, are served in their home communities receiving residential services, supported-living services, day-program services, employment training, and related services at less than 5 percent of the cost of the developmental centers. The numbers tell a sobering story: The State of California is proposing to spend spent over $515 million to support 1,010 individuals housed in the centers. This equates to $510,112 per resident, a 63 percent increase in costs in just three years. Conversely, 180,000 individuals served at community organizations such as PathPoint cost $25,151 per person in support.
California Disability Services Association