I’m kidding right?
“Drop her off at a homeless shelter”: This is indeed what Indiana parents who are no longer able to take care of their adult children with disabilities have been told by workers at the state’s Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services. As reported in the October 28th Associated Press, it’s the budget crisis in the state that has led to this—if you don’t my saying so—heartless suggestion. Parents who’ve been told to leave their children at shelters are waiting on Medicaid waivers that provide support for individuals with developmental disabilities. But:
some families have been on waiting lists for waivers for 10 years. The lists contained more than 20,000 names last month, and one advocacy group predicted they will only grow longer because Gov. Mitch Daniels ordered budget cuts that have eliminated 2,000 waiver slots since July.
Budget cuts also have resulted in the state moving foster children with disabilities to a lower cost program that doesn’t provide services for special needs and eliminating a grocery benefit for hundreds of developmentally disabled adults.
Further, private care providers have ‘suggested — or threatened’ homeless shelters as a (huh?) ‘option’ to parents like Daunna Minnich of Bloomington, whose 18-year-old daughter Sabrina is bipolar and subject to anxiety attacks and who ‘has attempted suicide, run away during home visits and threatened her older sister.’ Home is simply not a ‘viable option’ for Sabrina, and placements suggested are not appropriate for her needs.
Another mother, Becky Holladay of Battle Ground, has had no choice but to have her 22-year-old son, Cameron Dunn, who has epilepsy, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, sit in his stepfather’s truck all day while he is at work as a municipal employee. A school nurse, Holladay said that ‘she and her husband would go bankrupt’ if they had to pay for the level of care that Cameron needs, and deserve to have. She says:
“It’s heart-wrenching as a parent to watch it. We are people and they are people,” Holladay said, referring to her son and others with disabilities. “They have lives that are worth something.”
Something she should not have to say!
With the recssion continuing, this does not bode well for adults with disabilities. My son is 13 years old and you can be sure I worry about exactly the sort of things that have happened to Minnich’s and Holladay’s children. So often it feels that we all live one footstep away from something like disaster.
And it sounds like the disaster has already hit Indiana.
Photo by Ed Yourdon.