Parents told to leave disabled kids at homeless shelters

[deleted account] ( 5 moms have responded )

By Zachary Roth
2 hrs 51 mins ago

Parents in Indiana have reportedly been told by state workers to leave their severely disabled kids at homeless shelters if they can't afford to care for them, in what advocacy groups say is a horrifying example of how government budget cuts are hitting home for ordinary Americans.

Some parents testified at a state hearing this week that employees at the state Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services gave them the harsh recommendation, according to the Associated Press.

The parents had sought guidance after they failed to receive scheduled Medicaid waivers that pay to support disabled children living independently. GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels has made cuts to the budget of the Family and Social Services Administration, of which the bureau is a part.

"We are people and they are people," Becky Holladay -- whose 22-year-old son has epilepsy, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- told legislators Tuesday. "They have lives that are worth something."

The Family and Social Services Administration says that it's not the agency's policy to suggest homeless shelters as an alternative--and that workers who make any such recommendation will be disciplined. Spokesman Marcus Barlow told The Upshot that budget cuts had not led to delays in the Medicaid waivers. "People aren't waiting longer for their waivers than they were five years ago," he said.

Still, advocates for the disabled say the waiting list for waivers grew to 20,000 names last month--and that 2,000 slots were recently eliminated.

They also say that despite Barlow's assurances to the contrary, suggestions to leave disabled kids at homeless shelters have been widespread. "It is something we are hearing from all over the state, that families are being told this is an alternative for them," said Kim Dodson, an official with the Arc of Indiana. "A homeless shelter would never be able to serve these people."

Advocacy groups also say that the state social services agency isn't alone in floating homeless shelters as a care option.

Daunna Minnich says that as funding for her 18-year-old daughter's residential treatment neared exhaustion, the private firm Damar Services told Minnich that if she didn't take her daughter Sabrina home, Damar would dump Sabrina at a homeless shelter. Sabrina, who is bipolar, has attempted suicide and threatened her sister.

Damar executive Jim Dalton says his company would never leave a patient at a shelter and even has some residents whose funding has run out. But that's not sustainable, he said. "I don't think it's fair at all that a private service provider be where the buck stops — and that in many cases appears to be what is happening."

"We're talking about youth that absolutely require services," Dalton said. "And no one is willing to fund them anymore."

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C. - posted on 10/28/2010




That's really sad that they would tell the parents to leave their children somewhere else just b/c of budget cuts.

Might I ask why something as important as MEDICAID was being cut back on when I'm quite positive there are less important things that could have been cut instead???

Becky - posted on 10/28/2010




That is terrible! So sad! I agree with Carol, it can be challenging to get funding for adults with disabilities here - I think funding for children with disabilities is much easier to get - but I've never heard of anyone suggesting you leave them in a homeless shelter! Does the government not realize that by not funding programs for people with disabilities, they are just creating bigger, more expensive problems? Aren't homelessness and crime already big enough problems in the US? Why contribute to it by forcing people out onto the streets???

Johnny - posted on 10/28/2010




There are other options. For instance, if people were paying the tax rates they should be, they wouldn't be having these problems. It's so sad to hear people prattling on about government waste. Unfortunately, they're too stupid to realize that people like those in this article are the "waste" that they are referring to.

Here in Canada, we too have problems with funding for people with disabilities. But nothing even close to this extent. This is truly horrible and I fear for these families.

Jenn - posted on 10/28/2010




I'm so thankful we have a wide variety of programs and options here that are FREE to people with disabilities. I couldn't imagine being told to leave your child at a homeless shelter because there is no help available!! That's insane!!

Caitlin - posted on 10/28/2010




It sounds horrible, but really, some people have no other options.. Not that i'm saying I could ever do it, but when there's no money there's no money.. I get support for my daughter because she's considered handicapped, if it ran out, I'd still be able to care for her, but things would be tight. I don't know what i'd do.. I'd never leave my kid alone, i'd most likely end up in the homeless shelter right beside my kid..

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