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Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16379
Experience:  13 years experience in criminal law, BA in criminal justice
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My siblings and I are legal conservators of our DD sister,

Resolved Question:

My siblings and I are legal conservators of our DD sister, who resides in Porterville, CA in a group home, is served by Central Valley Regional Center, and attends a day program at vendored SVS (Social Vocational Services).
Two months ago, our sister received 3rd degree burns requiring serious medical attention while in the care of SVS. The SVS special incident report states that NO injury was observed, yet two hours later she was in the emergency room after the home care provider reported the burns.
An ensuing APS investigation is now closed and we are told that we do not have access to that. A police investigation is still open. Will we be able to obtain these records, if so, how. Since we are her "guardians", should we not see these records.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Legalease replied 6 years ago.

Hello. I am so sorry to hear about this. I also have a mentally handicapped sister who lives in a group home in MA and I know that this is NOT easy (and no one knows what you and your family go through -- they simply cannot imagine). Can I ask a few questions?


1. How did the injury occur? Do you know? Has your sister or the agency told you the specifics?


2. Which agency is she officially under the care of? Department of Mental Health? Adult Social Services?



Customer: replied 6 years ago.
To your first question.

1. They were on their daily outing on a hot day in the central valley. According to the SVS Special incident report, she sat down on the hot pavement in a parking lot (she has a form of muscular atrophy, previously diagnosed as CP and wears braces), and noone could get her up (she weighs 120lbs) The two SVS workers with her went off to find a supervisor, and, according to their verbal report (no time indicated in written report) came back in about 10 minutes. In their written report, they report "no injuries apparent".
2. As stated, the home care giver (of 23 years in a very small group home--6 adults), undressed her upon her return and found severe burns on her buttocks and sent her to the emergency room--this 2 months ago. The home care giver was required to file a report, and it was much more detailed. Her medical care has been extensive and complicated (she is now on the mend, happy to report, and I am traveling from NY where I live to see her next week)
3. To complicate matters, a worker at SVS who is a friend of the home care giver told the home care giver that she was really on the ground for 30 minutes (its 105 air degrees in this part of the word in July). (This is a separate issue, as a state auditors report recently noted that fear of reprisal is a serious issue in the California Regional Center system, and as of July on all REgional Center pages there is a link to a whistleblower process--at "our" regional center, however, it is deeply buried.).
4. What is really strange about the whole situation is that this is a small city that lives from this "industry". Whenever we are out with my sister and anyone perceives that she might fall or need help, folks literally come running across parking lots. Something is strange and we want to see reports.

To your second question:
She is under the care of the Department of Developmental Services ( DDS State of California), with her various care requirements coordinated by the Central Valley REgional Center of the Fresno/Visalia. SVS is a vendored agency. (She was originally in the Porterville State Hospital, which was downsized in the 80s, but still exists and is referred to as the Porterville Development Center. My sister is 57 years old.
Expert:  Legalease replied 6 years ago.
Hello there. I apologize for the delay on your answer. I have been tied up with my daughter's birthday party all day today -- I will review and answer your question later this evening (SUN) by about 8 pm. There is some CA research I want to do on this for you so that I can give you some direction, but that is impossible at the moment because of 20 screaming 6 year olds (LOL). Check back about 8 pm tonight. Again, thanks for your patience.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
OK thanks!
Expert:  Legalease replied 6 years ago.

Please see answer below

Edited by Mary M Esquire on 10/5/2010 at 12:06 AM EST
Expert:  Legalease replied 6 years ago.

I apologize again for the delay. I am finding that the chief office for investigating all lower agencies in matters such as this is the attorney general's office in CA. They are the chief law enforcement office in the state. So, if the APS has closed the case and the local law enforcement does not want to give you any answers, you may want to contact the AG's office. Here is a link to their website:

Another resource that was mentioned in the materials that I reviewed is the CA Dept of Developmental Services -- they also investigate concerns of the public regarding state agencies. Their website is . There could be a very real possibility that because your sister is mentally handicapped, the APS had difficulty getting the story from her. Obviously, you can hire a private attorney to make some inquiries on your behalf -- and if you can afford it, that might be the best way to approach this -- because the police, APS and all other agencies involved may take the matter more seriously if an attorney is making inquiries. If you can find proof that this happened due to neglect / negligence of her caregivers, then a civil suit will be the next step that your attorney will take.




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