*This editorial originally appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times
It is gratifying to see Woods Services pushing back against the outrageous and defamatory allegations published by Disability Rights New York.
As a parent of two profoundly disabled adult children, I have spent decades as witness to the ceaseless attacks on multi-bed facilities like Woods by fanatical organizations that cling relentlessly to the belief that disabled individuals are best served by “community placement” (group homes) with no more than three to four beds.
Having eliminated most of the state-run facilities decades ago, they have since devoted their efforts to the private nonprofits like Woods. One of my children is in a group home; the other is in Woods. The net annual cost is about the same.
There is no comparison between the breadth and depth of services provided. The folks at the group home do the best they can, but without a concentration of educational, therapeutic and medical services at one location, they are stretched thin.
Woods provides everything our son needs in a safe, compassionate and enriching environment. His needs are more severe than his older sister, yet the group home struggles to meet even her needs.
My wife and I fear the day when the ideologues in Harrisburg force our son out of Woods and into a group home. Group homes may be located “in the community” but their residents, especially those with severe needs, are rarely ever an actual part of that community.
Woods is a community — a vibrant and compassionate one that creates a safe space for the disabled to live and thrive. Woods was created over 100 years ago through the efforts of one person, Mollie Woods, who devoted her life to helping the disabled achieve in ways that had been inconceivable before.
If organizations like DRNY succeed in destroying Woods, something beautiful and irreplaceable will have been lost.