I am sharing news about an incident that occurred last week and was covered in the media, and how CLASS continues to ensure the safety and program satisfaction of the loved ones you entrust to our care.
Friday at 10:45 a.m., Jacinto Goulart, a man with developmental and intellectual disabilities who has been served by CLASS since 1999, decided to leave the CLASS facility in Lawrence without informing the staff who work with him. His disappearance from his program was not reported to CLASS management until just after 2 p.m. Once aware, CLASS management immediately followed appropriate procedures, alerting his family, the Department of Developmental Services and the Lawrence Police Department. We reviewed security video and launched our own search inside the building and in the surrounding community, continuing our efforts into Saturday. Jacinto was located on Saturday and we are relieved that he was found safe. We appreciate the assistance of the Lawrence Police Department in searching our building as well as working with the community and their law enforcement partners to make sure he was found safely.
The delay in the staff’s reporting his disappearance is deeply concerning to us, and we are conducting an internal investigation to learn exactly why this occurred and what we need to do to insure it does not happen again. We already have retrained all our staff on our missing-person and emergency policies, emphasizing the importance of continued diligence and notifying program managers if an individual is missing.
This unfortunate incident must not, however, overshadow the fact that we have more than 150 dedicated staff who give 110 percent every day to ensure the 400+ individuals we support are safe and have meaningful opportunities to learn independence and be engaged in their communities. CLASS constantly works to provide great supports and, in situations where things don’t go as well as we would hope, we always take the time to understand how we can improve our services in the future.
Our mission is to support, promote and facilitate the inherent rights of individual with disabilities to experience a life of active, meaningful engagement in their community. Many individuals work or live independently in the community. Many of the individuals we support have the skill and ability to choose to leave our program at any time. We applaud and support individuals’ rights to their independence and we train them how to make responsible choices and to be safe – including Jacinto. We know that joy in the hearts of individuals we serve comes from feeling accepted and valued and having the independence to make choices about how to spend their days.
To further our mission, CLASS has developed collaborative relationships with more than 30 community partners – educational, cultural, recreational, and business – to provide learning experiences for the 300 individuals entrusted to our care every day. In 2018 CLASS organized 1,250 community trips which provided 11,758 individual experiences. We will continue to seek opportunities for individuals to increase their independence and access meaningful community engagement. Our services are based upon a belief that individuals have the right to realize their full potential and it’s our job to support their vision to the best of our ability.
Thank you for your continued support of CLASS. We are honored to serve you.