It’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do: place your loved one with a developmental disability in a group home. At the time it felt right, knowing that your loved one could get the 24/7 attention they need and deserve, but now you suspect neglect or abuse. You may have noticed some strange bruises or that your loved one has been acting out of character – feeling depressed and easily upset. What should you do now?
First, document everything. Write down the time and date when you noticed the abuse. Make sure you provide as much detail as possible. If anyone witnessed the abuse, write down names and phone numbers. Take photos of anything you think is an injury: bruising, scars, bleeding, etc… Don’t be afraid to address your concerns with the staff. When you do, write down exactly what they told you. If they reported it in their charts or files, ask for a copy. Also, take your loved one to a doctor to have the injury checked out. Keep a record of everything the doctor writes down or tells you.
Now you’re ready to report the abuse. Here is a list of agencies you can contact:
Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD)
Is your loved one in a setting paid for by the DDD? If so, you’ll want to report the abuse to them. Speak with a staff member and file a written report with him or her. You’ll also want to file with the statewide DDD office. The DDD will investigate your report. Whatever their response, you’re able to get a copy. This will include any action the DDD will take against the home.
DDD Human Rights Committees (HRC)
These are groups of local people who are not part of the DDD, but are there to protect the rights of people with developmental disabilities who get help from the DDD. Each DDD district has its own HRC. Anyone can make a report to the HRC regarding abuse, neglect, or another rights problem. If the HRC is not the right contact, they will direct you to who can help. To make a report at your local HRC, contact your local DDD district office.
If the abuse or neglect caused major harm or injury, report it to the police. Arizona’s general laws protect all people from abuse and there are special laws in place to protect people with developmental disabilities.
Adult Protective Services (APS)
If your loved one is an adult, you’ll want to call APS. APS is a state agency for adults who can’t protect themselves. This includes protection from abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Call the statewide hotline to make a report at 1-877-SOS-ADULT or 1-877-767-2385; it’s free and open 24 hours per day. APS can offer protection services that vary according to your loved one’s needs.
Child Protective Services (CPS)
If your loved one is a child, you can call CPS. CPS is also a state agency aimed at protecting children from neglect and abuse. CPS looks into any report. Call the statewide hotline to make a report at 1-888-SOS-CHILD or 1-888-767-2445. It’s free and open 24 hours per day. CPS offers protection services for children, as well.
Division of Licensing: Group Homes for the Developmentally Disabled
If your report concerns group home conditions, send a report to the Division of Licensing. This agency inspects buildings to ensure they’re safe. They will look at things like fire alarms and water temperature. To report a safety issue in a building, call 602-364-2536.
The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.