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Home Sweet Home???: Fixing Group Homes for Human Beings Who Have Special Needs
  • Erik N Weber, California Western School of Law

When I was five years old, doctors who evaluated me for my autism told my parents to put me in an institution for the rest of my life. The doctors saw no hope; they just saw me as something to be warehoused. My parents did put me in an institution, which was college. My lifelong pursuit to help others with special needs to be treated with dignity began when I went with a Christmas Carol choir to sing Carols at a state hospital (“institution”). I saw patients strapped to chairs; they were lethargic, drooling, and no staff were in the rooms to attend to them. Instead of singing, I had to fight back tears of sadness. I asked my mom, “Is this what doctors wanted you to put me in?” No person with special needs should have to live like that.

But my scholarly writing pursuit began on a drive home from a Special Olympics state softball tournament when some of my teammates who live in various residential group homes shared horror stories of their group home living situations. I realized that many residential group homes are not much better than the hospitals. Many special needs individuals are being treated inhumanely; more often than not, the licensing agencies that are supposed to be checking the places where the special needs individuals live do not find anything (because the custodians tend to hide the mess before inspection). Tragically, some group homes in my birth city of San Diego confine their residents and never allow those human beings to experience life outside of fences. Some of those facilities have staff who beat or neglect the people they are supposed to care for. Oftentimes, no one is standing for the residents.

This paper will cover the background about how group homes first came to exist in the 1950s and the institutional problems they were trying to fix. Then the background will reveal the problems that creating group homes has not fixed. Next, the background will cover the types of group homes and the requirements that group homes are supposed to meet. After the background section, the analysis will go into the main interrelated problems that include imbalances in resident/staff ratios, resident mistreatment, lack of oversight and staff training, and insufficient state funding for group homes. Finally, I will propose some solutions for the primary problems.

  • group home,
  • disability,
  • residential
Publication Date
Citation Information
Erik N Weber. "Home Sweet Home???: Fixing Group Homes for Human Beings Who Have Special Needs" (2014)
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