DHS: Reforms ongoing to improve group home oversight

The Illinois Department of Human Services says recent reports of neglect at group homes for the developmentally disabled shouldn’t discount the benefits of community-based care.

A recent investigation by the Chicago Tribune highlighted dozens of cases of abuse at group homes going back to July 2011.

DHS Secretary James Dimas said the previous administrations dropped the ball on needed oversight.

“We came into a situation that was not good,” Dimas said. “It was ineffective oversight. I won’t say it was too little, it’s just that what was being done was ineffective.”

To fix the problem, some have said there needs to be an infusion of more cash. Dimas said that’s just part of the overall issue.

“If all we did was raise rates, we would just have a more expensive broken system,” Dimas said. “We’ve got to do the kind of management reforms that we’ve been working on for over a year.”

Dimas said their licensing bureau, office of inspector general and quality management bureau weren’t communicating.

“Now I meet every four to six weeks with all three of those offices together to make sure they are sharing information the way they need to because we need to be smart about this business,” Dimas said.

That will allow for a 360-degree view of group home providers, Dimas said.

Meanwhile Dimas said people shouldn’t dismiss community-based care in favor of institutional care.

“We want people with developmental disabilities to live in our communities with us and among us like everybody else,” Dimas said. “They enrich this community by being part of it.”

Policing group home settings has challenges, but Dimas said most homes provide excellent quality of care.

–Illinois News Network

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