Today, Wednesday, April 18, the state Senate unanimously passed Jonathan’s Law, two months after the death of 13-year-old Jonathan Carey, an autistic boy who died while in the care of O.D. Heck Development Center in Niskayuna.
The law ensures that parents and guardians have access to records pertaining to allegations and investigations of mistreatment of children in residential care facilities.
The parents of Jonathan Carey, Michael and Lisa Carey of Glenmont, began to fight for the law prior to their son’s death, because of their belief that their son was abused while a resident of the Anderson School in Dutchess County.
Following an investigation by several state agencies, determinations of the school’s extent of abuse was inconclusive. The Careys were denied the records of those state investigations on which those findings were based.
After the alleged abuse occurred at the Anderson School, the Careys pulled Jonathan out, eventually enrolling him in the O.D. Heck facility.
Jonathan Carey was killed while riding with two employees of O.D. Heck when he was allegedly restrained inappropriately while riding in the backseat of a van traveling on Central Avenue in Colonie on Thursday, Feb. 15.
The death of Jonathan Carey was a tragic event, and the allegations that surfaced after his death concerning his treatment at not one, but two facilities that were entrusted with caring for him have made clear the need for this legislation, said state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, R-Brunswick. `Families of disabled children should be confident that they are receiving proper care. Jonathan’s Law will make sure parents and guardians have full access to information about their children’s treatment, leading to better oversight and care for vulnerable children in these facilities.`
Both Michael and Lisa have been actively involved in the process of passing this law, lobbying on behalf of Jonathan and others in similar situations. Michael has said in the past that his hope would be that Jonathan’s Law would bring sorely needed change in how the state cares for its disabled residents.
`The current mental health care system is unsafe and must be changed immediately,` said Michael Carey. `Many of the developmentally disabled cannot speak or defend themselves. The parents and legal guardians are the voice and advocate for their own children. Access to important information regarding their children’s care is crucial for the safety of their children. Jonathan’s Law is about access to these needed records.`
State Assemblyman Tim Gordon, I-Bethlehem, announced today that the Assembly is expected to adopt the law on Monday.
Jonathan’s Law (S.3105-A) does the following:
– ensures that parents or guardians have access to records concerning alleged abuse or investigations of abuse when it concerns their children. Upon written request, records must be released within 21 days of the conclusion of an investigation;
– mandates telephone notification to the parent or guardian of a patient when an incident occurs involving that patient, and upon request, a written incident report must be provided to the parent or guardian;
– directs the Commission on Quality Care (CQC) and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (CQCAPD) to prepare and disseminate a pamphlet on the right to access records relating to patient care and treatment;
– requires the CQC to notify the parents or guardians when there is credible evidence of alleged abuse or mistreatment; and
– establishes a task force on mental hygiene records to study and make recommendations on additional legislation regarding access to patient records and reports.
Read updates in next week’s issue of Spotlight Newspapers, on newstands on Wednesdays and Thursdays.