The Seattle Times began publishing a three-part investigative series this weekend on the exploitation and abuse of Washington's elderly populations living in adult family homes over the last two decades.

A little footnote we've got: The governor's budget this year makes things worse.

Adult family homes are private residences that take in elderly patients. They serve as alternatives to nursing homes and are licensed (though poorly-regulated) by the Department of Social and Health Services. The poor regulation, lack of strong oversight, and lack of funding has led to physical and mental abuses of elderly victims. The Times reports instances of victims being locked in their rooms, strapped to chairs, heavily drugged, and more.

In an email to legislators responding to the Times article, the DSHS wrote, "Additional training and certification will be required of all new workers in Adult Family Homes and other community settings due to passage of Initiative 1029."

I-1029—approved in 2009 and originally slated to begin Jan 1, 2010—would require long-term care workers to get certification, more than double their training, and undergo federal background checks.

The problem is, the initiative still hasn't been enacted.

Last year, Seattle Rep. Eileen Cody's (D-34) bill, HB 2359, postponed the new training requirements until Jan 1, 2011 as a way to save money during the economic crisis.

The initiative is once again facing postponement in Olympia. In her 2010 supplemental budget, Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed delaying the mandatory training until the 2011-2013 biennium for savings of nearly $3.5 million in the 2009-2011 biennium.


Viet Shelton, the Gov's deputy communications director, says that nothing is set in stone yet for this year's budget.

"Leadership in the House and Senate and the Governor are still negotiating what the final budget is going to look like, particularly in regards to the final cuts," said Shelton. "Things are still in play about what finally ends up in and what doesn't."
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