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New York makes moves to protect disabled residents from abuse

Sadly, many disabled people in New York suffer from maltreatment in many forms. Some endure abuse at the hands of caretakers, and others are forced into debt they simply cannot pay off because of expensive but necessary treatment. To make matters worse, year after year, New York fails to provide the advocacy these individuals need to get help when they are stuck in a bad situation. Fortunately, it seems that this trend is about to come to an end.

Less than two weeks ago, state officials announced that it will create positions within the government to protect and serve New York's disabled residents. The state has hired an inspector general and a prosecutor to head up the initiative. The legal group will operate under a new name: Disability Rights New York.

So far, the new group -- which is still hiring staff members -- seems be working well. One woman explained how they helped her avoid paying $15,000 that authorities said she owed. She has a son who has a disability and did not have that kind of money. She said that working with experts helped her navigate a system she might not have been able to on her own.

For decades, New York has lacked a federally funded program to advocate for its residents who have disabilities, but Disability Rights New York will receive approximately $6 million each year. As the new operation takes shape, hopefully New York residents will find that they have a way to seek help from skilled advocates when they need it.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "New York State Begins New Outreach to Aid Disabled People," June 16, 2013

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