The Billy Cothran Fund

So that Billy Cothran did not die in Vain.

Billy Cothran lived most of his 63 years in a state-operated regional center (an ICF-ID) for people with developmental disabilities. In 1994 the Office of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Justice investigated reports of abuse and neglect of residents at Billy’s regional center. Federal investigators found that conditions at the center subjected residents to unreasonable risks to their personal safety and violated their constitutional rights. Because of concerns about Billy’s safety in the regional center, his guardian moved him to another ICF-ID close to the guardian’s home.

In 2004 his guardian purchased a home for Billy in the neighborhood, filled it with family photos and furniture and planted roses, Billy’s favorite flower, in the back yard. Tragically, Billy never got to live there. In September 2004 Billy died, just four days before he was to move into his new home.

Billy’s family demanded an autopsy when they were told he died of a heart attack. The autopsy determined that Billy choked to death. A subsequent investigation revealed that conditions in the facility “pose immediate jeopardy to the health and safety of the residents.” The investigation found that the facility was understaffed, staff was not properly trained and Billy’s death had not been thoroughly investigated.

The family approached P&A in late 2008 to establish The Billy Cothran Advocacy Fund (Fund). The Fund was established in February 2009 and P&A has received a significant contribution from the estate. The Fund will also be available to other donors who wish to provide future support.

The Fund will be used for the elimination of abuse and neglect and the creation of meaningful life choices for people with disabilities. Specifically, P&A will administer the Fund for two purposes: (1) policy-making activities that address abuse/neglect and personal choice and (2) internships for students to train in advocacy for people with disabilities. Policy-making activities may include advocating for legislative and administrative changes. As long as funds permit, the Fund will provide two internships annually to graduate students who are studying social work or law and have a strong commitment to the rights of people with disabilities.

Additional donations to the Fund will be gratefully received to further the work of P&A in:
Protecting people with disabilities from abuse and neglect and
Advocating for the right of individuals to live in the community in the home of their choice.