Monday, March 3, 2014

Institutionalization? Alive and well

Colin Anderson Center's Crib Ward
Many presume that the institutionalization of people with disabilities is obsolete. And with good reason. There are many countries where that is the reality. There is even a United Nations treaty - the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - guaranteeing the right to live in small, community residences. As of October 2013, it had 158 signatories.

But sadly, the practice of institutionalization is alive and well in many countries. The following articles indicate that individuals like our children are still locked up in large, isolated facilities both in the developing as well as the advanced worlds.

In the Caucusus republic of Georgia, for instance, big orphanages have been closed down in recent years. Children have been transferred  to smaller care homes, foster parents, or their own families with community support systems in place. However,“institutionalised children with disabilities were largely excluded from this reform process. These children continue to be marginalised and abused. Without services for adults with disabilities, these children face the prospect of lifelong segregation from society.”  More about the abuse those children suffer here.

In Israel, a high-tech center, 12,500 children and adults with disabilities remain in large institutions. Some administrators of those institutions are extremely PR savvy. They work hard to present their facilities to the public and to their government as the ideal living arrangement for their residents. And their efforts pay off big time: donations and government funding keep their coffers overflowing. More about "sugar-coated discrimination" against citizens with disabilities here.

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