Despite Lawsuits, Big Payouts, DSHS Still Lagging in Disabled Care
15 years ago, a record-setting payout was made to settle a case of neglect and abuse in the Washington state Department of Social and Health Services system that cares for developmentally disabled adults. But nearly two decades later, a study shows little has been done to improve the system.
Wednesday, Northwest Cable News reports there are still flaws in the system that negatively affect care of such people.
In 2000, a lawsuit filed on behalf of three developmentally disabled men who lived in a home in Bremerton resulted in over $17 million dollars being awarded them and their families. The suit stemmed from charges of neglect, abuse and other issues at the group home.
But in 2015, the report shows there are still issues with numerous areas. They include:
Screening. Caregivers hired by the state are only required to fill out a simple application, pass a backround test, and go through a basic training program that critics say is inadaquate. DSHS does not conduct a home study during the screening process, nor do they do a backround check on others living in the group home. The screeners are also not required to contact law enforcement to check on the applicants potential criminal backround.
Monitoring. Case managers and other officials are only required to make one visit a year to homes where such people are being cared for, nor are they required to make unannounced visits - surprise drop-ins. By contrast, foster parents often get one visit a month, and DSHS officials do make surprise inspections of foster homes, and state-licensed daycare facilities.
Caseworker-to-Client Ratio. On average, there are 18 foster children being overseen by one case worker. In the caregive industry, especially dealing with developmentally disabled adults, that ratio is still around 1-100.
This report has spurred the legislature to have several committees examine the DSHS system, and reports indicate there are plans for legislation to correct these issues.