September 24, 2012
Senate Bill 599, Sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Senator Jennifer Beck, unanimously passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee today. The legislation provides protections for individuals with developmental disabilities residing in community care residences.
“There is no shortage of protections we need to take to ensure that the people we are entrusting to care for residents with disabilities are qualified, capable, and above reproach,” said Sweeney. “This is an issue near and dear to me. I got into government because I did not like the way individuals with disabilities were being treated. We have made great strides in this area, but we can always do more.”
S599 was drafted in response to the tragic death of Tara O’Leary, a 29-year-old woman with developmental disabilities who suffered neglect at the hands of her caregiver while her family, working with the legislators, sought to regain custody. At the time of her death in 2008, Tara O’Leary weighed only 43 pounds due to the treatment she had received.
“This bill amends an existing law concerning safeguarding and reporting information which may be necessary for civil or criminal proceedings following an allegation of abuse, neglect, or exploitation by a caregiver of an individual with a developmental disability,” explained Beck (R- Monmouth). “I sincerely hope that the advancement of this bill may be a small consolation to the O‘Leary family while offering some comfort to families who currently have loved ones in community care residences,”
S599 now advances to the full Assembly for consideration