Aileen Rivera of Wayne, whose son was nearly beaten to death by staff in a New Jersey developmental center states: “I am desperately concerned with Sen. Beck's legislation on Tara's Law that only covers the developmental disabled in ‘COMMUNITY CARE SERVICES a/k/a FOSTER HOMES’, which is only 5 percent of the developmental population. Why can't the remaining 95 percent, who suffer in silence, be protected, as well?”
The parents, in general, support the concept of the bill, and would like to see it expanded to include all residential facilities. Tara’s Law, in its limited form, does provide protection for a least a small portion of people with developmental disabilities who are in some form of residential care.
Karen Cameron from Spring Lake is also the parent of a young adult son who was severely beaten in a residential facility. As she has noted: “I applaud Tara's Law and the work of Senator Beck, but this law only scratches the surface. We can't sit by, silently, while those in group homes, supervised apartments, developmental centers and day training centers remain unprotected.”
Some legislators have voiced their concern for the limited population that would be protected by Tara’s Law. Senator Ronald Rice (D,-Essex), who serves as a member of the Senate Health Committee, suggested that there is no reason why the Committee could not add an amendment that would expand the protections to people with special needs in all residential settings. Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D. Bergen/Passaic) also concurs with the view that the proposed amendment is needed and should be included in the bill, without delay.
Nevertheless, as the discussions and reported concerns continue, people with developmental disabilities who live in residential facilities continue to die or suffer lifetime physical and psychological injuries, without the same civil and human rights that the non-disabled population enjoys and expects.
Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, a Disability Policy Specialist, holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law School.