“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Well I finally got fingerprinted so that the group home I had been visiting would not get into trouble. Believe me, I totally understand the need to protect persons with disabilities, particularly those with cognitive disabilities from people who would take advantage of them. I want them to be protected. However, I also realize that the fingerprinting is another hurdle in the way of friendships between people with disabilities who live in group homes and community members who might potentially befriend them.

In a conversation with a woman who represented those who were evaluating the group home, I asked what might be done to make it easier for people to be involved with group homes and not have to pay the $61 for fingerprinting? She indicated that the group home could reimburse those who were fingerprinted for the costs. I can only tell you that not all group homes are interested in paying money for anything extra let alone just to have someone be a friend to a resident. Then there is the issue of multiple people being involved. One group home I was involved with probably had as many as 10 people involved with the residents. Would the group home pay $610 so that those people could be involved with the residents? I would seriously doubt it. In addition, what if there were turnover in those from the church who were involved with the group home. How many times would the group home be willing to ante up the $61 for a new friend to have visiting rights after fingerprinting?

No, this is an example of another barrier to community integration of persons with disabilities instituted by the human service systems who, with the best intentions, contribute to the problem of isolation of adults with cognitive disabilities.

The woman I spoke with from the agency said that the law would need to be changed for there to be a change in the fingerprinting requirement. Understand me that I am not trying to get the protection of vulnerable people removed. I am trying to protect people while at the same time facilitating their integration into the community. I am planning to contact my state legislator's office to explore the issue. Perhaps a solution is a much reduced cost for such fingerprinting and an expedited system. If people aren't interacting with persons with disabilities when they don't know the hoops they have to go through to do so, what would their reaction be if they understood the requirements that they would have to meet to be a friend.

This will have a particular impact on the church where there could be many who would be involved with people with disabilities. I can't even imagine what might be required. For example, should an adult with cognitive disabilities go to a church, how many of the people in the church have to be fingerprinted?

Perhaps it is time we pushed the envelope a bit in a kind of a preemptive strike such that that excuse would be removed as a reason for no involvement.



Anonymous said...

When you say "preemptive strike" do you mean overwhelming the group home systems with requests for visits to the point where the system would be forced to react in some way or another? Letter campaigns to state legislators? Cool.

I know you are right about the unwillingness of group home management to pick up an unnecessary tab, it can take too much profit out of the not for profit organization...

Tell us more about your ideas. What do you want to do?

Jeff McNair said...

The preemptive strike I was thinking about was to develop a proposal that would be given to my state legislator. Perhaps some way of reimbursing group homes, or waiving or supplementing cost for those who want to be a friend of a person living in a group home. Might be stronger if it came from several state legislators.

MJH said...

I pasted the link for the fee schedule from Community Care Licensing. A point I am curious about is the disparity in fees for essentially the same servie. Also, shouldn't it be cheaper now that things are done electronically? I've been fortunate this year as my fingerprinting has been paid for, but between Mandy and I we have been livescanned 7 times. There has to be a better way to connect with people. Let me know if you figure it out.