At OPWDD, our mission is "to help people lead richer lives." As part of this mission, we are committed to providing statewide coordination on matters related to the Willowbrook case. The Willowbrook litigation commenced in U.S. District Court in 1972 seeking to correct unacceptable conditions at the Willowbrook State School in Staten Island, NY. The Willowbrook Consent Decree became effective on behalf of class members on May 5, 1972. This lawsuit was not only a landmark case and catalyst for the State of New York to reform its service system for people with developmental disabilities, but it also became a symbol for raising the conscience of the nation to support deinstitutionalized care and treatment and to establish high standards for humane conditions both in residential settings and institutional environments. The Willowbrook Permanent Injunction, which was signed in 1993, represents the current standards of services for class members.
This website, OPWDD’s Compendium of Willowbrook Reference Information, provides documentation that will assist local Developmental Disabilities Regional Office (DDRO) and voluntary agency staff comply with the Willowbrook Permanent Injunction, and shares information on initiatives that address systemic concerns raised by the Willowbrook parties, in the areas of aging, community inclusion, due process and other notification, guardianship, health care choices, housing, incident reporting and management, informed consent, monitoring, personal allowance management, and service coordination.
Helene DeSanto, Service Delivery and Integrative Solutions, serves as administrative liaison to the Willowbrook parties. Patricia Delorey-Pawlowski, OPWDD Counsel serves as OPWDD Counsel on the Willowbrook case. Under Ms. DeSanto's direction and in conjunction with Ms. Delorey-Pawlowski, Lori Lehmkuhl works with voluntary agencies and DDRO Willowbrook liaisons, who serve as local experts on services for Willowbrook class members.