Prevent abuse of people with developmental disabilities was the Op-Ed piece in The Seattle Times yesterday written by Sue Elliott, executive director of The Arc of Washington State and Ed Holen, executive director of Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council. The issues brought forth are not new and I’m wondering why these agencies have not been continually advocating for safe and appropriate care, oversight and investigations all along? It was clearly evident from the Op-Ed piece Supporting our most vulnerable citizens published in 1999 by these same two authors that these issues were of great concern. What happened in the past 13 years between these two essays to improve the situation? Apparently nothing – so what are these agencies advocating for and what is their purpose?
My belief is that these agencies have been led down a misguided path – rather than looking at the person who they are supposedly advocating for they have been advocating for those who gain financially from social experimentations of rapid deinstitutionalization without evidence based studies that this is the best option for some of our most vulnerable citizens. There seems to be a rule that the data which DSHS and DDD share with these agencies is golden even though it may not make sense. But because the data supports the agenda of these agencies which are backed by their supporters who will gain financially from this misguided advocacy, it is used as fact and this is what our policy makers are given to use for legislative purposes.
In my attempts to ask these advocates and other decision makers in our state about the questionable conclusions I have been told may several of the executive directors of Arc chapters in our state that they do not question the information which DDD gives them, they do not ask questions about the sources, they assume the data is correct.
Recently, when I asked to meet with the statewide coordinator of the parent coalitions run by The Arc of King County, he wrote he had seen my questions and data but did not want to address them.
All I can think is that these people just put their head in the sand and do not want to face reality. They need to look at the questions asked and answer them, look at the glaring discrepancies and address them – they need to be accountable for their actions and inaction in their advocacy and not blame the legislature. They are the ones giving the legislature the information and if they give the legislature garbage they will get garbage.
My concern is that many vulnerable people are being hurt by these who claim they care.