“Our most vulnerable citizens will now have someone looking out for them,” said State Senator Steve O’Ban (R-Pierce County), chair of the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee. “I’m grateful the supplemental budget prioritizes the needs of individuals with severe disabilities.”
The Senate budget released today includes Senator O’Ban’s legislation to require the Developmental Disabilities Administration to identify people at the highest risk of abuse and neglect and increase inspections of where they are cared for–including at least one unannounced visit per year. The legislation also creates the Office of Developmental Disabilities Ombuds, which may provide information, investigate, monitor, review, and recommend changes for care of people with severe developmental disabilities, as well as submit an annual report to the Governor and the Legislature.
The legislation was inspired by the story of Laura Gholston, a Tacoma woman with severe developmental disabilities who suffered horrific abuse at the hands of her caregiver. KING 5’s investigative report by Susannah Frame exposed the extreme abuse and neglect suffered by Laura and the woeful lack of oversight in her case by the Department of Social and Health Services.
“This kind of abuse should never happen—never.” said O’Ban. “We can’t change what happened to Laura but with these new requirements we reduce the chances of it happening to anyone else.”