People with intellectual and other developmental disabilities have the same rights and basic safety and protection needs as others. At the same time, they face numerous additional barriers, including protection risks, heightened risk of violence, exploitation and abuse by the general public, service providers, and even their families. People with disabilities are not a homogenous group and safety plans must address the unique needs of each person. Those plans must include protection from harm and injury throughout their lives, while also being provided with the tools and supports necessary to protect themselves.
It is the Position of The Arc New York that:
- A supportive network of family, friends, and advocates of people with I/DD and other disabilities are often times the first line of protection from harm. However, if for any reason the above groups are the cause of harm, or unable and/or unwilling to provide the necessary protections, the appropriate protective agencies, support, and advocacy groups must be accessible and available to ensure that local, state, and federal laws are adequately enforced.
- People with intellectual and other developmental disabilities must be given the opportunity to learn to live safely in their community, protect themselves, and be able to seek appropriate assistance.
- Safety and fire drills must be designed with sensitivity to people’s unique needs and capabilities, particularly when activities occur unexpectedly and quickly.
- Drills must be planned with sufficient frequency to be realistic and without the possibility for “opting-out.”
- In accordance with OPWDD regulations and Mental Hygiene Law, parents and/or guardians must be informed of any investigation of abuse and neglect as required and be provided a statement of the final disposition of the investigation
- Providers of supports and services must:
- Screen all applicants to eliminate those with a history of perpetrating abuse, neglect, or a criminal record and evaluate all employees in accordance with NYS regulations, including those regarding the Justice Center, OPWDD and NYS Education Department, on a regular basis to ensure appropriate job performance
- Ensure that appropriate safety and emergency management plans are in place, and that all staff have the associated training and competence to work effectively and appropriately with people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
- Train staff to report allegations of abuse and neglect directly to the Justice Center to ensure the proper procedures are followed to address the allegations.
- Immediately investigate allegations of abuse or neglect and take immediate corrective action when warranted
- Take steps to limit access to Personally Identifiable Information(PII) and Protected Health Information(PHI), acknowledging the potentially grave consequences imposed by breaches and a person’s right to privacy. Access must be on a need-to-know basis and safeguards must include use of administrative, physical, and technical means.