In addition to making investigative records available for parents, the law mandates telephone notification to the parent or guardian of a patient when an incident occurs. It also requires the state Commission of Quality Care to notify the parents or guardians when there is credible evidence of alleged abuse or mistreatment, and establishes a Task Force on Mental Hygiene Records to study and make recommendations on additional legislation regarding access to patient records and reports.
"This is a great victory for every child under state care, but this fight is not over. We must continue to be the voice for children who cannot speak for themselves," said state Assemblyman Tim Gordon, I-Bethlehem, who sponsored the legislation. "Working with the Careys to get this legislation passed, has been an inspiration they have turned the most tragic incident into a cause for hope for all parents of special needs children."
The Careys have been actively involved in the process of passing this law, lobbying on behalf of Jonathan, and others like him. Michael Carey has said in the past that his hope would be that Jonathan's Law would bring sorely needed change in how the state cares for its disabled residents.
"The current mental health care system is unsafe and must be changed immediately," said Carey. "Many of the developmentally disabled cannot speak or defend themselves. The parents and legal guardians are the voice and advocate for their own children. Access to important information regarding their children's care is crucial for the safety of their children. Jonathan's Law is about access to these needed records."
Carey said he and his wife would continue to advocate for the rights of the disabled.
"Right on the heels of this we're hoping to work with numerous senators and assemblymen for reforms for the mental health care system," said Carey, two weeks ago. "Lisa and I are committed advocates for the reform to the system to help developmentally disabled adults and children."
On Tuesday, April 24, the state Senate passed legislation that elevates endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person from a class A misdemeanor to a class E felony. The legislation awaits approval from the Assembly.
"There are many problems in the system that need to be changed," said Carey. "A lot of people want to do the right thing. We're just trying to point them in the right direction."