As I was chatting with the nice gal who was taking my prints, I told her that I was a volunteer at a group home for adults. She considered the categories on her form for the purposes of charging me.
"There is not a space on the Department of Justice forms for people who want to volunteer with adults in a group home or a senior citizen center for that matter" she said. "If you were working with children, there is a price for volunteers" (I think it was 35$) "but not for adults. Are you going to be employed by the group home?"I had actually offered to the group home the idea of paying me $1 a month or something, so I wouldn't and they wouldn't have to go through the continuing hassle of dealing with those in social services who were harassing them. But I cannot tell you how angry it would make me that I have to be paid in order to be a person who interacts with adults with intellectual disabilities as a friend. Clearly $1 a month would not change my motivation in wanting to just visit friends, and provide them various opportunities to enrich their lives, but it really bugs me that it would make me just one more person on salary in their lives. The regulations built to "protect" them are actually killing them socially. Who would want to go through the hassle of getting fingerprinted numerous times just to befriend a person with a disability? I mean it is not like people are lining up to befriend group home residents, people who are truly worthy of friendship, but I guess that is how social services in America likes it. "Leave it to the professionals!"
Well we left it to the professionals, and the result was overcrowded, brutal institutions populated by innocents living wasted lives...but it was sure convenient for all involved. To once again quote Burton Blatt,
To live with our retarded children, our handicapped friends, our aging parents does place burdens on all of us, but what we must learn from the nightmare of institutionalization is that these burdens cannot be avoided or delegated, for to have a decent society we must first behave as decent individuals. Ultimately our society will discover that it is easier to meet the responsibilities to our fellow man than it is to avoid them. (A return to purgatory, From In and out of mental retardation, 1981, p. 268)
Unfortunately human services, instead of lessening the burden contributes to it. I can understand why someone with a heart to help would throw up their hands and say "I give up!" We in human services really don't want you to interfere in our plans (be they IEP's or whatever) because you will make things difficult for us, and we would prefer to avoid our responsibilities, particularly when they are messy. It is all about therapeutic power that makes decisions on the basis of administrative convenience.