I can’t believe that one person is still missing!
From the Chicago Tribune.
2 residents from now-shuttered group homes found
By Patricia Callahan, Contact Reporter, Chicago Tribune
Two residents who went missing from now-shuttered group homes for adults with developmental disabilities have been found.
Attorneys for the state, though, alleged in Cook County court Wednesday that an employee from the group home business, which lost its license last month, had “actively concealed” one of the residents from caseworkers trying to move her to a safer home.
Last month, when the Illinois Department of Human Services revoked the license of the network of homes operated by Disability Services of Illinois, state officials hoped to move all 45 residents quickly to new homes. But that has not proved to be an easy task, despite the efforts of the state and pressure from Cook County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Pantle. One resident still remains missing, according to the state.
While most of the residents were relocated, a handful have been unaccounted for, leading to a series of contentious court hearings seeking more information from Disability Services CEO Reuben Goodwin Sr. and his employees.
On Wednesday, Chief Deputy Attorney General Brent Stratton told Pantle that he planned to file an affidavit showing that the woman who turned up Tuesday had, at one point, been staying with a Disability Services employee who was hiding her.
In hearing after hearing in recent weeks, Pantle has urged Disability Services employees to assist those searching for the missing residents. Though he was not in court Wednesday, Goodwin repeatedly has said he and his employees have been cooperating. In prior hearings, Goodwin said the residents came and went from his group homes as they pleased and left with family for the holidays, though he didn’t know the names or phone numbers of the family members.
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In court Wednesday before the affidavit was filed, Pantle said she didn’t know whether the state’s latest allegation was true. But she told an attorney for Disability Services, “In the event that they are actively concealing the final two missing residents, that’s got to stop.”
The second resident turned up after that hearing, but a spokeswoman for Human Services had no details about where he had been or how he had been found.
Disability Services attorney Michael Kelly on Wednesday told the Tribune that the state has been leveling allegations that are untrue and reiterated that the company has called caseworkers every time it has learned the whereabouts of its former residents.
“DSI doesn’t have any stake in hiding residents,” Kelly said, using the company’s acronym. “They’re not getting funded by the state.”
The Tribune’s “Suffering in Secret” series last month spotlighted problems at Goodwin’s group home business, which used to go by the name Southwest Disabilities Services & Supports. After the Tribune shared its findings with the head of Human Services, licensing officials inspected the group homes, found safety violations and revoked the license Nov. 28.
In Illinois group homes, adults with disabilities suffer in secret
Debra Stanley, a director at Suburban Access Inc., a private contractor hired by the state to coordinate services at group homes, said in an affidavit filed Wednesday after court that Goodwin called Tuesday to tell her that the family of one of the missing residents had dropped her off.
Stanley, who picked her up, wrote in the affidavit that the resident said she had been taken to a hotel for a few days, then later was told to hide in one of Disability Services’ group homes. Using the resident’s initials, Stanley said in her affidavit: “L.C. also stated that she was in the (group home) when the police came looking for them. She stated that she was told to hide in the closet during that time.”
The resident said about a week ago she went to stay with a Disability Services staff member, who then dropped off the resident at her aunt’s house a few days before Christmas, according to Stanley’s affidavit. The woman told Stanley that a Disability Services employee called her at her aunt’s house and asked her to come to a Disability Services location because Suburban Access needed to speak with her, the affidavit said.
The allegations in the affidavit echo those previously made about Disability Services. Caseworkers in prior affidavits have said that former residents recounted being told to turn out the lights and hide when caseworkers came searching for them.
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