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Gunther: proposed laws protect indiviuals with developmental disabilities

June 22, 2011

• require OPWDD to make at least three unannounced visits. Currently, OPWDD is required to make at least two facility visits per year where only one of the two visits is unannounced. The bill also would authorize any Developmental Disability Services Office (DDSO) Board of Visitor member or any other individual approved by the commissioner to attend an inspection as an independent monitor (A.6665-A); and

• ensure that the DDSO ombudsman is an independent advocate by making him or her an employee of the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities. Currently, the ombudsman is an employee of OPWDD (A.8322).

“OPWDD-licensed facilities and programs should help improve the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities, not make their lives worse,” Gunther said. “Accountability, assistance and regulations are needed to ensure that OPWDD-licensed facilities and programs are effective and beneficial resources for the people who depend on them.”

The final bill in the legislative package would limit the work week for direct-care workers to less than 60 hours during a seven-day work week except in cases of an extraordinary emergency (A.8127-A).

“The Assembly’s legislation will help prevent further victimization,” Gunther said. “I’m committed to ensuring that individuals with developmental disabilities are kept safe and healthy when under the care of the state.”