Archive for October, 2020

Social work

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

published in the Republican November 2020

A social worker’s purpose is to help individuals live their best life in their communities while overcoming daily challenges.  They foster self-determination and social responsibility.  The social workers work with a variety of different groups of people across the country. 

Several weeks ago, Texas Governor Greg Abbott recommended a change to the code of conduct for social workers.  His recommendation was to delete language that bars social workers from rejectingclients on the basis of disability, sexual orientation orgender identity.  Abbott stated that “the code’s nondiscrimination protections went beyond protections laid out in the state law that governs how and when the state may discipline social workers.”

After the change in the rule, there was a firestorm of criticism from social workers and advocates.  The National Association of Social Workers called the change unnecessary and also criticized the decision, saying that it was made solely on the governor’s recommendation without considering public opinionas required.  Texas State Representative Sarah Davis said “Removing these protections from the code of conduct will increase stigma for vulnerable groups, which will only serve to discourage them from seeking care.”

After the backlash the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council voted to reinstate the language that was removed.  The executive director of the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Will Francis, said, “We are so grateful for the vote to keep the anti-discrimination protections in place.  This is a recognition of the key principle that a social worker’s beliefs must never impede a person’s right to self-determination or access to services.”


Saturday, October 24th, 2020

published in the Republican October 2020

We are approaching the November 2020 presidential election.  A research study done by the Rutgers University Program for Disability Researchconcluded that there are 38.3 million eligible voters with disabilities.  That is a 19.8 percent increase since 2008.  This increase of voters may be related to mail in voting.

There are many reasons to vote.  The most important is to make your voice heard.  Voting is our right to help decide government issues.  It is a way to say what you need, want and what your beliefs are.

Voting gives us the opportunity to choose who is going to represent us.  By doing so, we can acknowledge who we trust to take care of our basic needs, from the president, senators, governors and mayors.

Voting is essential to help with policies and social issues that are impacting our country.  Some examples are health care, climate change, racial inequality, disability rights, gun control and financialissues.

Before Election Day, it is important to educate yourself as to who is on the ballot and what they stand for.  More importantly, don’t let anyone or anything influence your vote.  When we are voting, we are proclaiming our independence by standing up for our rights and the Constitution.

Supreme Court nomination

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

published in the Republican October 2020

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg left an empty seat in the Supreme Court.  The President has nominated Amy Coney Barrett for the position.  She is a former professor at Notre Dame Law School and is also a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Many disability rights advocacy groups feel that she would be a threat to disability rights.  These groups sent a letter to senators urging them to reject the nomination due to her record and the rush for confirmation.  This letter was sent by more than fifty disability advocacy groups.  Some of them are the National Council on Independent Living, the American Association of People With Disabilities, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and theAutistic Self Advocacy Network.

In the letter, the groups expressed concern that Amy Coney Barrett has written that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.  Another concern is the threat to expanding health coverage and preexisting conditions.  This is a major point because of the upcoming Supreme Court case regarding the Affordable Care Act.

The letter concludes that “It is imperative for the disability community be someone who understands and respects the rights of people with disabilities.  Judge Barrett’s record demonstrates a hostility to rights that are critically important to people with disabilities.”  All of the groups agree that a Supreme Court nomination should not take priority over the COVID-19 relief bill that can help many people, including those with disabilities.

Abuse and allegations

Sunday, October 11th, 2020

published in the Republican oct 2020

The Devreux Advanced Behavioral Health center near Philadelphia has treated children with intellectual disabilities and mental disorders for over 100 years.  Last August, there were allegations of sexual assaulton several campuses.

Forty-one allegations were reported and some of the alleged victims were as young as twelve.  It is said that a pattern of neglect allowed the assaults to occur.

The Philadelphia Department of Human Services decided after a six-week investigation to remove 53 children from the Philadelphia campuses of Devreuxdue to neglect by the staff.  The commissioner of the department, Kimberly Ali, said, “We found staffers doing nothing.  They weren’t doing their jobs.  They were not watching the children.  And if they were doing it, some of them were doing it sporadically.”

Children with disabilities are often vulnerable to abuse and neglect due to the stigma that they live with.  Unfortunately, many people think they can get away with it because nobody will know or care about it.  It is our job to ensure that each child is treated with respect and is cared for.  Agencies were put in place to safeguard the hiring of people who work with children to make sure there is no mistreatment.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Published in the Republican October 2020

On September 18, the country lost a longstanding Supreme Court Justice.  Justice Ginsburg died at the age of 87 from pancreatic cancer.  She was well known for women’s’ rights.  However, she also played an important role in the rights of people with disabilities.

Justice Ginsburg was involved in the historical case of Olmstead v. L.C.  In 1995, two women with developmental disabilities filed a lawsuit against the state of Georgia for discrimination.  They claimed that their rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act were violated.

The ladies wanted the right to live independently with community support after years of being institutionalized.  The state of Georgia argued that financial constraints made providing services unfeasible.

They won the case in 1999 and Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion.  She wrote “First, institutional placement of persons who can handle and benefit from community settings perpetuatesunwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life.  Second, confinement in an institution severely diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals, including family relations, social contacts, work options, economic independence, educational advancement and cultural enrichment.”

The CEO of the American Network of Community Options and Resources, Barbara Merrill, said, “Justice Ginsburg cemented the right of people to live within the community, rather than in institutions.  Her work gave power to the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and she will be forever remembered as a champion of the rights of millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”