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Auditor General Blasts Group Homes, DPW Oversight
May 15, 2000

Auditor General Robert P. Casey, Jr. has issued a highly critical report based on performance audits of eight group homes in western Pennsylvania. According to a media release from the Auditor General's office, the 160-page report documents "serious deficiencies that threaten the health and safety of residents, including allegations of abuse and unexpected deaths that were not investigated promptly, direct care workers with criminal backgrounds, and inadequately trained caregivers."

Casey lays much of the blame for substandard conditions at the feet of the Department of Public Welfare, and offers 47 recommendations to improve supervision of the programs. He also charges that the department offered "indefensible excuses for its lax oversight."

It is interesting to note that a number of advocates spoke in defense of community-based living programs, including Mark Murphy, Esq., Deputy Director of the Disabilities Law Project in Pittsburgh, who asserted that "...I would caution against any mass conclusions from findings in these particular homes. I could pick out eight homes I know of and take the auditor general to them, and everyone would be very happy." Murphy noted that the Auditor General's office targeted homes chosen by families who oppose the closing of Western Center and the transfer of its residents to community placements.

ACTION: Copies of the Auditor General's report are available on the web at http://www.auditorgen.state.pa.us/Department/Press/grouphom.html. Providers are urged to read the report and communicate their responses to their local elected officials. Please share your response with Kris Ericson at the PCPA office.

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