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Letter: We need more group homes for developmentally disabled

We need more group homes for developmentally disabled

This letter is prompted by the recent article regarding the class-action lawsuit filed by Bruce A. Goldstein on behalf of five families in Western New York who have been unable to secure group home placement for their developmentally disabled loved ones.

As the father and legal co-guardian of a son who is developmentally disabled and afflicted with psychiatric disorders, I wish to add my opinion.

The state and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) have failed miserably in their mission. Since he took office, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has engaged in a systematic dismantling of the services that were previously available to our loved ones, including the elimination of beds in group homes. My child is lucky enough to live in a group home, but thousands of others like him are not so lucky.

On a recent visit to the campus of the OPWDD/Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca, I noticed numerous structures that could function as group homes for our loved ones. There are still hundreds of employees working at this location, but there are no disabled and mentally ill individuals receiving any services there. Why?

How can officials proclaim that the state spends more per capita to serve its developmentally disabled individuals than any other state, and be so woefully ignorant of the need for residential placement for developmentally disabled and psychiatrically ill individuals?

The reduction in the number of beds and the paucity of facilities that can serve those with psychiatric issues is strongly reminiscent of the state’s shameful actions in closing psychiatric hospitals over the past 30 years and releasing these hapless and helpless people into the general population.

Our developmentally disabled loved ones are left to the mercies of a woefully inadequate system and I must echo Goldstein’s statement about the fears of the aging parents of these people. Who will take care of our loved ones when we are either too old to care for them or when we are dead?

Paul D. Borden

South Wales

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