Governor signs measure to safeguard missing persons

Measure inspired by constituent concerns

Gov. Jery Brown signed a local lawmaker's bill last week, making law a measure that would protect vulnerable members of the community.

Written by Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), AB 620 requires certain care facilities serving adults with developmental disabilities and the elderly to develop plans to notify family members and law enforcement when an individual under their care goes missing.

"This bill was a high priority for me. It was brought to me by a constituent, Denise Lester, after her developmentally disabled daughter was missing for over seven hours from a care facility, and subsequently required three days hospitalization," Buchanan said. "Another case in our county had a tragic ending when an Alzheimer's patient was found dead after wandering from her care facility. We were surprised to learn that current law has no requirement for a facility to notify family or law enforcement."

Lester was present when Gov. Brown signed the measure and added, "The night my daughter went missing, I learned that common sense was not common at all. I appreciate the work of Assemblymember Buchanan and her staff and applaud the governor signing AB 620. The bill will protect disabled adults and give family members peace of mind knowing that proper procedures are in place should their loved one go missing."

Assembly Bill 620 passed out of the Legislature with strong bi-partisan support and was supported by AARP, Alzheimer's Association, State Council on Developmental Disabilities, The Arc & United Cerebral Palsy California Collaboration, as well as many other organizations and individuals.


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Posted by Grandma
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 17, 2013 at 7:54 am

I worked for many,many years with adolescent children who lived in care facilities. They had physical and developmental disabilities. These are usually for profit organizations, though some are not. They have to really cut corners in order to cover their expenses, and really,really cut corners in order to make a profit. The employees were low paid people, who often had to work without the equipment,like hoists, needed to help these youngsters. It is hard work and involves toileting and feeding, as well as positioning. There is often minimum staff, and if someone calls in sick, less than minimum staff.

Some of my kids died while living in these homes, even the well-run, caring homes. I called in CPS, licensing agencies, school nurses, to no avail. One of my co-workers did the same and was told, that all was in order in the home, when it was obvious from the condition of the children that it was not. This is a tiny step in the right direction. I hope it is the first of many steps to improve all aspects of care homes.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Denise Lester
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Oct 20, 2013 at 5:02 pm

I deeply appreciate your comments and understand the often terrible realities of care facilities. I also understand the frustration encountered with trying to right wrongs in the system. My hope is that everyone who has the the horrible misfortune of having a loved one encounter any one of these wrongs will do the RIGHT THING. Speak up, ADVOCATE until someone will listen and act. That is the only way we have a hope of making these care facilities safe for our beloved families and friends.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Diane
a resident of Danville
on Oct 21, 2013 at 11:15 am

Thank you for your advocacy regarding this bill, Denise. Having a person go missing is terrifying and can have tragic results, which is magnified a thousand times when that individual lacks the capacity for reasoning and problem solving regarding their circumstance.

This is a long time coming, and will provide support to so many!

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