Some stories are very difficult to read and share, as is the case with today’s New York Times piece about the questionable deaths of 1,200 individuals with disabilities in state care in New York. For those who have children of all ages with special needs, this is the kind of story that reinforces their worst parenting nightmares about the horrors of possible outside placement for their loved ones, even when a placement is needed and the groundwork must be done to find a good one. It’s also another reason so many families are today taking part in building/running group homes their children live in.

Hard to read,? Absolutely. But at least, we are no longer hiding these atrocities. That will help create needed change, including how we train and pay those entrusted with the care of such individuals. We need to see this population as ‘people first,’ with value, not as the unnamed and easily dismissed disabled, as has been the case in this country, and the world for far too long.

My heart broke reading this story, both for families who are part of this tragedy, and because I know that for the grace of God, this could easily be any parent’s story.

Shameful. We must do better.

Read In State Care, 1,200 Deaths and Few Answers, here.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Judy Winter