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For-profit group home company sued for systemic abuse

Families with seriously disabled children sometimes need to place them in group homes in New Mexico. A lawsuit against a large for-profit company that operates group homes for severely disabled minors highlights the worst fears of families who need these services.

According to court filings, the attorney general of an East Coast state has accused the company of tolerating filthy conditions, under-staffing facilities, failing to train staff, and physically restraining residents.

The lawsuit details allegations that the company tried to hide multiple incidents from regulators. The abuses began to come to light after one girl died under the company's care. She had been strapped down with restraints that other providers in the group home industry have abandoned.

Court filings recounted another incident in which a staff member lured a child out of the facility for a sexual relationship. Co-workers had witnessed the employee entering the child's bedroom but never intervened. In separate case, the grandfather of a resident had to force staff members to provide medical help after the staff broke his granddaughter's nose while trying to restrain her. The company has not issued a public response to the lawsuit.

Government agencies meant to protect people in vulnerable situations often move slowly. A person concerned about the conditions at a residential care facility or the abuse of a loved one could try direct action through legal representation. An attorney experienced in handling nursing home neglect cases could confront a facility with allegations. This support might help a family move the person to a safer place as well as pursue damages in court for the harm inflicted by staff members.

Source: Pro Publica, "Maryland Sues Notorious For-Profit Group Homes. The Company Was the Subject of ProPublica Investigation", Heather Vogell, July 12, 2019

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