- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) - A Cook County judge ordered a group home owner Tuesday to turn over 18 residents with developmental and intellectual disabilities because they were in danger of “irreparable injury.”

The Chicago Tribune reports (https://trib.in/2gyemUN) that Judge Kathleen Pantle ordered Disability Services of Illinois to turn the residents over to the Illinois Department of Human Services.

DHS officials complained the company had obstructed efforts to claim the residents after the agency revoked the company’s license following a Tribune investigation that found injuries and deaths linked to group homes.

Disability Services CEO Reuben Goodwin Sr. said Tuesday he would abide by the order. His network includes seven homes on Chicago’s south side and south suburbs. An eighth home closed last month.

Lawmakers in a joint House-Senate hearing questioned DHS officials in a hearing in Chicago Tuesday about the Tribune’s findings. They include hundreds of cases in which abuse and neglect charges were investigated and cleared by group home employees. Inspector general’s reports are routinely sealed.

“Let’s not pretend that the solutions to this very serious problem lie in the past,” Sen. Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat, said in a statement following the hearing. “The solutions can only be found in partnership with the current governor and his administration - one that went to great lengths to conceal important information about group home abuse and neglect from the public, from the victims’ families and from the media.”

Human Services Secretary James Dimas told legislative leaders in a Dec. 7 letter that the agency has doubled the number of investigators assigned to allegations of abuse and neglect among clients who have developmental disabilities.

He the self-policing system has been eliminated and improved procedures help investigators spend more time reviewing cases.

Dimas says the state’s “most vulnerable residents are safer now.”


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