Part Two: Group Home Investigation - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Part Two: Group Home Investigation

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     Getting care to people who need it and being a neighbor within the community. On Thursday we told you about what may be a growing trend: group homes where multiple people who face disabilities live and need special, 24-7 assistance. But in a few cases concerns have been raised about staff leaving residents unattended, ignoring basic sanitation, and issues resulting in occasional police presence.
     "I've had soiled adult diapers blow out of the trash can and into my yard, up and down the alley. Bloody gloves come out of their trash into our yard," said Brian Gall who lives near two group homes.
      "What our officers are experiencing when they get there is the staff is not adequately trained to deal with them," said Davenport Police Major Don Schaeffer.
     Davenport police are now working to identify all the homes and different calls officers have responded to in hopes to address these concerns. In the second part of this TV-6 investigation we take a look at what standards these programs follow and how the city is looking to get more involved.
     Mary Allen, who has an autistic son, is the founder of Allen Autism Behavioral Consultants and owner of a local group home service. Her staff provides 24-7 care at two different homes where several people with various disabilities or diagnoses live. She says it's not always easy to find a place within a neighborhood.  "They're going to have issues. They have a diagnosis. But why don't we as a community of people who don't have a diagnosis reach out and assist them instead of criticizing the providers," said Allen.
       Many Home and Community-based Service agencies are Title 19 care providers and have to meet regulations on the state and federal level to stay certified. For the caregivers there is not a specific certification required, but a certain amount of training in things like reporting dependent abuse, confidentiality, medicine management, and knowing how to respond in a crisis situation.
      Each home is different when it comes to staff to client ratio because each individual has different needs. Any complaints are investigated by the Department of Human Services.
     "People left unattended? That's not the case," said Allen. "Our clients have a right to take a walk down the streets in their neighborhood all by themselves."  
     DHS deals with issues from alleged neglect to  concerns over where homes are established.  State code says DHS will consider geographic location when approving a program to avoid an over-concentration in an area. But a department spokesperson says there really is no definition of what over-concentration is in this case.
     With the discovery that there's currently more than 100 in Davenport some worry that the city's only power is limiting up to eight people living in a group home. "It kind of ties our hands and I think it's unfair to the neighbors and unfair to the city that we're not allowed to work with these organizations and make some demands that they be good neighbors," said Alderman Ray Ambrose.
     Ambrose says there are many locally run agencies that do work well the police department's liaison program. His goal is to build better relationships with all and see if there can be additional involvement on the city level. City leaders are planning at least one neighborhood meeting with everyone involved, including possibly state legislators, for more dialogue on this issue.