December 8, 2006
For Immediate Release Contact: Richard A. Cohen, Executive Director Disabilities Rights Center, 603-228-0432
Central Registry Abuse and Neglect Task Force Issues Final Report
On December 1, 2006, a Legislative Task Force to Study Further Improvements in Central Registries issued its final report to the Governor and Legislature. The recommendations of the Task Force are designed to enlarge access to the adult/elderly registry and the existing DCYF registry of substantiated reports of abuse and neglect against children. Representative Susan Emerson of Rindge was chairperson of the 18-person task force.
The Task Force was set up as follow up to a law passed last session. Beginning in July 2007, DHHS funded or licensed programs serving people with disabilities or the elderly are required to check an adult DHHS central registry before hiring a caregiver. The check is to learn whether the potential employee may have abused, neglected or exploited an elderly person or adult with a disability. An individual will go on the registry if they have been found to have abused, neglected or exploited an adult with a disability, including any person served by a community area agency, mental health center, the state psychiatric hospital, nursing homes, residential care/assisted living, or home health care.
The Task Force made several recommendations to improve the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) central registries of founded cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The recommendations included the following:
• Adding a requirement to the law that employers in the adult and elderly service system must check the DCYF registry in addition to the adult services registry prior to hiring. The access to the DCYF registry would be only to information about paid caregivers, not to substantiated cases of parental abuse or neglect.
• Allowing or possibly mandating employers in the children’s service system access to substantiated cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation in the new adult services registry.
Advocates for people with disabilities view the registry as an important step towards assuring the safety of vulnerable elders and people with disabilities.
Richard A. Cohen, Executive Director of the Disabilities Rights Center, served on the committee. He thanked the Legislature and Governor for their overwhelming support of this important legislation. “The registry provides the system with a critical tool in reducing abuse and neglect by preventing abusers from leaving one employer, only to abuse or render poor care in another one”, he said. “The recommendations of the Task Force provide further safeguards by helping to prevent abusers from crossing from the child system to the adult/elderly system and vice versa.”
Among other recommendations was one which would require that licensed day care providers must ensure employee caregivers who are charged with certain crimes are either suspended or only work under supervision until cleared of the charges.
See the full report of the study committee.
The Disabilities Rights Center, Inc. (DRC) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to eliminating barriers existing in New Hampshire to the full and equal enjoyment of civil and other legal rights by people with disabilities. It is a member of the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN). To find out more about the DRC or NDRN, visit their websites at www.drcnh.org. and www.ndrn.org.