Georgia has made considerable progress in improving services for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities, a new report says.
The report by an independent reviewer, which was released last week, tracks the steps the state has taken since it agreed to revamp its services in an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Georgia has actually exceeded second-year targets of providing supported housing and employment for people with mental illness. It also surpassed its required number of placements of individuals with developmental disabilities from state hospitals into residential settings, according to the report by independent reviewer Elizabeth Jones.
But, like Jones’ report a year ago, this review also cites some significant problems.
A review of services for 48 individuals with developmental disabilities placed in community settings found rights violations, unsanitary environments, inadequate staffing, unsatisfactory day programs, and psychotropic drug use without informed consent. “Needed supports were found to be lacking,’’ Jones says in the report.
Frank Berry, who recently became commissioner of the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), said that while the report is largely positive, “we’re most concerned that some individuals with developmental disabilities didn’t receive adequate support from our contracted service providers.”
Department spokesman Tom Wilson said Monday that the state is still building its network of service providers for people with developmental disabilities. “Providers needed more training and oversight’’ than some of them received, Wilson said.
In the 2010 settlement with the Justice Department, Georgia agreed to establish community services for about 9,000 people with mental illness, and to create community support and crisis intervention teams to help people with developmental disabilities and mental illness avoid hospitalization. full story