Parents Worry Federal Probe At CHDC Will Lead To Lawsuit &
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 22, 2003
CONWAY, ARKANSAS--The U.S. Justice Department last week completed an investigation of resident care and treatment at Conway Human Development Center, the largest institution in Arkansas that houses about 550 people with mental retardation and other disabilities.
The months-long investigation was prompted by complaints from parents and from media reports about treatment and safety problems in CHDC. Earlier investigations by the state found that the facility did not protect residents from abuse, did not provide adequate medical care, and did not supervise residents -- to the point where staff lost track of residents for up to 19 hours at a time.
Now parents of CHDC residents, who want the facility to stay open, say they are afraid that the federal investigation will report more deficiencies and violations of residents' rights. Such reports might lead to expensive lawsuits that could cause state officials to give up on keeping the costly institution open.
Some pro-institution supporters suggest that the federal pressure put on closing institutions has little to do with the actual treatment people in the institutions experience. Instead, they say, the move to close these facilities is motivated by third-party consultants who "almost always" find deficiencies in order to keep their lucrative contracts with the government.