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 Speaking out for people with
intellectual & developmental disabilities


836 S. Arlington Hts Rd.  #351

Elk Grove Village, IL  60007

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Membership Matters!

We are only as strong as our supporters

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Please keep your membership current!

If you are unsure when your membership will expire, please write to

Press Contacts Needed!


VOR's Marketing Committee is compiling a list of media contacts who have proven friendly to VOR's issues or who have not exhibited a bias against ICF's, Sheltered Workshops, etc. 

If you have any connection with a reporter or media outlet in your state or region, please send their name, media outlet, and contact information to us at

VOR's Quality of Care in the Community committee is trying to compile a new list of dental resources and solutions, and would like to hear from you. Do you know a dental practitioner who treats individuals with  I/DD? Does your ICF offer care to the community? Is there a Community Resource Center that offers dental services? Any and all suggestions will be appreciated.

Please write to with any information that would prove helpful. We look forward to hearing from you.

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And of course, visit our website at:
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Volunteers Needed!

Volunteers are needed for several committees and specific tasks. VOR relies on its members to perform many of its key responsibilities. Please join us, and help us to continue our mission.

Donate to VOR today that we may continue to provide a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.

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Many companies and employers match employee donations to non-profit organizations like VOR.

We now feature a quick and easy link on our Membership & Donation
pages so that you can see if your company participates.

September 1, 2017

VOR Weekly News Update
News and views for VOR Advocates

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VOR is a national organization that advocates for high quality care and human rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

VOR promises to empower you to make and protect quality of life choices for individuals
 with developmental 



1. Hurricane Harvey
VOR has been reaching out to people in Texas and Louisiana for information on the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and how we might be able to help people with I/DD who have been displaced by the storm and flooding.

Texas' State Supported Living Centers (SSLC) were well prepared for this event. Last week, before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the Texas Health & Human Services Commission evacuated over 200 residents from the Corpus Christi State Supported Living Center and relocated them to the San Antonio facility. They are currently in the process of returning residents back to Corpus Christi SSLC.

VOR's longtime Texas Advocate, Ileene Robinson,  wrote me, and after assuring me that she was safe and dry, informed me about the Richmond State Supported Living Center:

"Mr. Al Barrera , our director ,moved in on campus to be there  24/7 while all this is going on.  Many of the staff worked double shifts, took a nap, and then went back to work because some of the shift direct care professionals  were flooded and could not even get to work. There was amazing cooperation.
I know they  [the staff] are exhausted but all the residents are safe, have been fed hot meals, and have received their proper medication from nurses and doctors. They are being entertained and are being properly exercised in the hallways. They did a lot of drawing as well.    

What a giving, loving place that Richmond State Supported Living Center is!!!!"
- Ileene Robinson   Sister of Rita Sue Rosenfield

VOR's Michele Arnold added,
Harvey could be the opportunity for people to insist that their family member be admitted to a Texas State Supported Living Center. Richmond has beds. I suspect all 13 [SSLC's] have beds."

On Tuesday, August 29th, Melissa Salinas, administrator to Mr. Barrera, sent out an update to families:

"We wanted to let you know that we continue to shelter in place.  We are continually monitoring the weather and the level of the Brazos River.  Richmond SSLC is located on a high elevation of the land, well above the expected crest of the river. 

·       No evacuation is planned.

·       Staff are available to meet the needs of the residents here.  

·       Power/water is available with no loss of power at any point.

·       Meals/medications are being delivered to homes as scheduled.

·       No flooding on the campus, draining well.

·       Currently, there is a break in the rain which will allow ponding and roadway issues to clear.  

·       No injuries at this time.

·       No telephone/computer issues at this time.

·       No emergency generator issues at this time.

·       All facility storage tanks are full.  

·       Meals/rest areas are available to staff.

For up-to-date status of Harvey at Richmond State Supported Living Center, please call the Family Information Line at 281 344-4399.  This line is updated 2 times a day."

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission posted a FAQ document about changes and adjustments to accommodate people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the wake of the storm. Click here for the FAQ

For more information on services, please visit the Texas Health & Human Services Commission's website at


Donate to VOR today that we may continue to provide a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.

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Donations may also be sent by mail to
836 S. Arlington Heights Road  #351
Elk Grove Village, IL  60007



2. Texas - Harvey Brings Unique Challenges for Those with Disabilities

By Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop, August 30, 2017

The upending of normalcy during the worst tropical weather system ever to hit Houston is particularly hard on those with special needs, and disability advocates and families are working to help them cope.


The Autism Society of Texas has providers from Austin, as well as partners in Clear Lake and north-central Houston, heading to shelters to offer resources and support, executive director Suzanne Potts said.

The organization is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross to assess needs. What’s en route: sensory-support bags containing stuffed animals, fidget toys, weighted blankets, earplugs and noise-canceling headphones, notepads and crayons.

“There’s an overwhelming need for saneness,” Potts said. “A sense of consistency and creating a routine are critical.”

The Red Cross has asked for respite care and behavioral-intervention guidance for those struggling to adjust to the crowds, noise and lighting at shelters, including the one at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, Potts said. Her outfit has advised creating a dimly lit quiet space, if possible, and posting a visual schedule like many people with autism rely on to know when meals will be served, for example.

The Autism Society also is distributing H-E-B and Walmart gift cards to anyone displaced by the storm — handy for those with dietary restrictions.

Potts suggested people at shelters find other families of those with special needs for comfort.

And whether at a shelter or home, Potts, a licensed social worker, offered caregivers this advice: “Focus on the here and now — don’t look too far forward or too far back … Manage your own self-care. Take a walk if it’s safe.



3. New Jersey - Son of Disability Advocate Dies in Group Home, State Investigating

By Susan K. Livio, NJ Advance Media, updated August 29, 2017

The 33-year-old son of a high-profile advocate for people with developmental disabilities was found dead in his group home in Somers Point Sunday, police and state authorities have confirmed. 

William "Billy" Cray was found dead on the floor of his bedroom at about 8 a.m. Sunday, state Human Services spokeswoman Nicole Brossoie said Monday.


The group home is operated by Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health of New Jersey of West Deptford. Brian Hancock, the company's executive director, said he would be releasing a statement about Cray's death later in the day. 

An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death, Somers Point Police Chief Michael A. Boyd said. In addition to the police, Devereux and state Human's Services' Office of Investigations are conducting separate inquiries into Cray's death.

Cray's mother, Martha Cray of Roselle Park, is one of the most vocal parent advocates to champion legislation that would impose closer scrutiny of group homes. The bill was named for Stephen Komninos, a 22-year-old man who died in 2007 when he was left unsupervised by a Bancroft employee and choked to death on a bagel. 

"This is tragic and my heart goes out to the Cray family," Assemblywoman Valerie Vainer Huttle D-Bergen, said, one of the bill's sponsors. "Billy's death is yet another reminder of why we need to continue to strengthen oversight and improve our notification system at our developmental centers and group homes. His untimely death underscores the need for  this legislation finally enacted into law, no more delays or excuses."

Read the full article here


3. Washington - City Mulls Ban on Subminimum Wage

By Paige Gross, The Seattle Times, via Disablility Scoop, August 29, 2017

A proposed ban on paying workers with disabilities less than minimum wage could take effect as soon as next month, but some worry the change would have unintended consequences for the people it’s trying to help.

Employers are allowed to pay subminimum wages through the use of special certificates in Seattle and in Washington state and elsewhere across the country. Supporters of the change say this is blatantly discriminatory and out of line with federal laws protecting the rights of workers with disabilities.

Currently, just eight Seattleites make less than minimum wage under the city’s ordinance. But members of the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities, the group calling for the change, say they’re going after the state certificates next. That could affect 705 more workers — some earning just a few dollars an hour.

The Northwest Center — which was singled out for paying subminimum wages, in a letter from the commission to the City Council — says the matter isn’t that simple.

Forbidding subminimum wages, the center argues, could cost those workers more in the long run, putting other medical and financial benefits at risk and forcing cuts to their work hours.

Christy Wicklander, a mother and legal guardian to two Seattle workers making subminimum wages, says they are in an ideal situation — gaining experience and self-esteem at work rather than sitting at home.

“Inclusion, in theory, works very nicely,” she said. “But practically, you have to be very careful.”



4. Massachusetts - Courageous Advocate Gives Critical Testimony on Disability Abuse Registry

By State Rep. Linda Dean Campell, The Valley Patriot,  Aug. 29, 2017

Many of us in the Merrimack Valley know individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities in addition to knowing family members, friends, and professionals who care for them. While most caretakers do amazingly compassionate work every day to assist those in need of around the clock care, there are a few who choose to take advantage of one of our most vulnerable populations by physically, sexually, emotionally or financially abusing them.

In many instances families do not become aware of abuse until it has occurred for an extended period because often disabled individuals who suffer are unable to easily communicate what has been done to them.

There is a gap in our system of protection for vulnerable individuals which allows caretakers that have abused their former patients to seek employment elsewhere with no central registry available to alert a new employer of the caretaker’s previous misconduct. It is time for Massachusetts to join the twenty other states that already have some form of an impaired adult or developmental disability abuse registry.


Cheryl Ryan Chan shared with us the story of her disabled son, Nicky, who had fallen victim to abuse. Cheryl received a copy of a report from the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) that explained how Nicky had been horrifically abused on more than one occasion at his day program and when she asked about what was in place to prevent abusers from seeking employment at another provider she was told there was nothing. Nicky’s story is just one of many tragic accounts presented at the hearing and is the reason why I filed H.80, An Act to establish a registry of caretakers found to have substantiated abuse against persons with intellectual disability or developmental disability. This legislation would create a comprehensive registry for individuals with substantiated abuse records.

The push for the legislation started in July of 2016 with the release of a federal audit of group homes that serve individuals with disabilities in Massachusetts. Following the release of the report, the Boston Globe reported that the U.S. Inspector General uncovered disturbing information and statistics in relation to abuse conducted by employees of Massachusetts group homes. The report from the IG indicated that 58% of emergency room visits from the group homes involved reasonable suspicion of abuse and neglect between January 2012 and June of 2014, but were not reported to an investigator, which is a violation of their Medicaid waiver.



5. New Mexico - Guardianship Company Closed, U.S. Marshals Service Says

By Colleen Heild, The Albuquerque Journal, August 31, 2017

The U.S. Marshals Service announced the closure of Ayudando Guardians Inc. offices on Thursday, noting that the company had about 1,400 clients when a federal grand jury indicted its two principals and the company on charges of embezzling client funds in July.

Previous reports estimated the number of guardianship or conservator clients in New Mexico at less than 200, but it wasn’t known how many others were receiving representative payee services in which Ayudando handled monthly or regular client benefits from agencies such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Social Security Administration.

Those representative payee agreements don’t have to be approved by a court.

The Marshals Service has been under federal court order to oversee operations of the company since the July 11 federal indictment of Ayudando president Susan Harris and chief financial officer Sharon Moore. The two were charged with 28 counts of conspiracy, fraud, theft and money laundering charges arising out of an alleged scheme to embezzle funds from client trust accounts. They have pleaded not guilty.

The two women are alleged to have siphoned more than $4 million from clients’ representative payee accounts and savings or money market accounts to support lavish lifestyles for themselves and family members. The company served hundreds of clients with special needs or who are disabled.

The Marshals Service, meanwhile, has been transferring Ayudando clients to new agencies, with the help of state district court judges.

But earlier this month, the transfer process was described by one private agency professional as a “nightmare.”



The American Health Care Association /
National Center for Assisted Living 
2017 Convention & Expo in Las Vegas
October 15 - 18

October 17th is I/DD Day
Click here for more information

AHCA/NCAL helps members to make sense of the current long term care environment and all its complexities. In addition to sorting through and discussing the very latest happenings in Washington, D.C., other topics include:

    •    Dementia Care
    •    How to Understand and Use the Data You Have
    •    Improving Your Five-Star Rating
    •    QAPI
    •    Improving Staff Stability and Engagement
    •    Risk Management
    •    Updates on the New Survey Process
    •    Sustaining an Infection Prevention and Control Program

This years event promises exciting speakers, a jam-packed Expo Hall with prizes and freebies, great networking and social events, and Huey Lewis and the News capping it all off at the Gala Dinner & Show - you are sure to win big at this year's AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo in Las Vegas!

For more information, write to Dana Halvorson at



If you have a conference or group event that you would like posted here, please write to with a description
of your event.


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