About 4,800 mentally retarded Ohioans live in their own homes and rely on home-care aides to help them take their medicine, shop for groceries and do other everyday chores. Taxpayers spend more than $200 million a year on private companies to provide this care.
But the state and counties rarely check on whether companies do even adequate jobs. The mentally retarded, on their own and at the mercy of untrained, low-paid workers, routinely die preventable deaths or are abused, neglected or robbed, a Cincinnati Enquirer investigation has found.
Problems are likely to get worse. As part of a national movement to give people more independence, the government will spend up to $400 million over the next three years to move thousands more impaired Ohioans away from aging parents or licensed facilities and into places of their own. By 2005, the number of mentally retarded people living alone in Ohio is expected to double.
They will live in the least regulated homes in the state. Read the full story
About this project
Enquirer reporters Debra Jasper and Spencer Hunt and photographer Michael E. Keating spent 16 months crisscrossing the state, interviewing the mentally retarded, their families, advocates and officials. They traveled to dozens of places, from rural Vinton County in Appalachia to Lake County, bordering Lake Erie.
Ms. Jasper is Statehouse bureau chief. She has covered politics and government for 16 years.
Mr. Hunt is Statehouse bureau reporter. He has written about politics and government for 10 years.
Mr. Keating, a 23-year-veteran photographer, covers everything from sports and politics to breaking news.
E-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael E. Keating:
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