State to Parents: Drop Your Disabled Kids at a Shelter

homelessEverybody ready for a little state-sanctioned child abuse? The economy is, well, let's just say it sucks, and the government has made it pretty clear our kids are their last priority.

But if you thought refusing to let us pay for our breastfeeding equipment out of our medical accounts because babies' lobbyists aren't as good as those of the formula companies was bad, just wait.

State workers in Indiana have allegedly been telling parents of children with special needs to leave them at homeless shelters if they can't afford their care.


The AP alleges the parents are being told this is the only option because Indiana's Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services can't afford to cover their care with a Medicaid system burdened by the failing economy. They even tracked down a mom of a teen who is bipolar and has anxiety attacks, has attempted suicide, run away during home visits, and threatened her older sister.

Her mom is literally days from running out of the funds to cover her residential treatment, but she doesn't have the ability to provide her specialized care at home.

But neither can homeless shelters. Traditionally non-profit, these are places run very specifically to give people shelter from the cold. If they can, they give a meal or two. Maybe some counseling or a connection with the local workforce development office. And even with those simple services, they're strapped.

The National Coalition on Homeless estimates over the course of the year, 3.5 million Americans will experience homelessness. It's increasing on an average of 12 percent across the U.S., yet many cities do not have adequate shelter space to accommodate their needs. There's simply no money to provide additional care for the mentally ill and the addicted as it is.

So how are shelters supposed to tackle caring for teens with special needs? If their parents can't care for them, it's clear the kids won't be able to take care of themselves. And throwing them out there leaves them ripe for the hate crimes that make the homeless victims of beating, rapes, shootings, and a host of other violent crimes. In 2009, 43 homeless people were actually killed in these attacks.

Then throw in the elements -- Indiana is a state that experiences winter -- and you're adding on a layer of neglect that would get an average parent accused of child abuse.

I've read heart-wrenching blog posts from parents of special needs children over the year detailing the plans they've already laid out to ensure their kids are cared for well after they're gone. They worry something may go awry with the plans after they're gone, and there are no laws to protect these kids. 

This is their worst nightmare come to life.


Image via moriza/Flickr

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