It's an article about a family with a disabled child who was forced to relinquish custody of their 14-year-old son because they couldn't afford to care for him. The boy, who has a brain injury and is autistic, is now in a juvenile group home.
Ontario's new ombudsman is investigating complaints from parents who say they must give up custody of their severely disabled children to get them the care they need.By contrast, many people with disabilities in the United States have no such recourse.
"If that is the case, it is simply unacceptable," André Marin told a news conference yesterday, promising results from a team of seven lawyers and investigators within weeks.
"This urgent and pressing issue demands our immediate attention."
Marin said parents have complained they are forced to give up their children under the "false pretense or artifice that the child is in need of protection or has been abandoned by the parents."
He urged any parents in this situation to contact his office, which has already heard from the parents of six children.
"As ombudsman of Ontario, I intend to be a voice for children and their families who've been treated unreasonably, unjustly or oppressively by the provincial government."
One of the long-running fights in the disabled activist community is the passage of the Medicaid Community Attendant Services and Supports Act, known as MiCASSA.
Right now, Medicaid pays for nursing home care, but not long-term personal attendants. People with disabilities who could live in their own homes, go to school and work, if they had a personal attendant - but who can't afford one - are often forced to live in nursing homes. This includes children and teenagers.
Personal attendant care would be less expensive for the state. More importantly, it would give people with disabilities control over their care and their lives.
Families are in crisis. When support services are needed there are no real choices in the community. Whether a child is born with a disability, an adult has a traumatic injury or a person becomes disabled through the aging process, they overwhelmingly want their attendant services provided in their own homes, not nursing homes or other large institutions. People with disabilities and their families will no longer tolerate being forced into selecting institutions. It's time for Real Choice. . . .My favorite MiCASSA activist is Kyle Glozier, a young man I interviewed as a "roll model" for the KOW book. When Kyle was 14 years old, he testified before Congress and debated anti-disability-rights activist Clint Eastwood. From there, he was chosen to address the 2000 Democratic National Convention in L.A. In front of 35,000 people, with another 1.5 million watching on TV, Kyle brought down the house.
MiCASSA, the Medicaid Community Attendant Services and Supports Act, is that alternative! Instead of making a new entitlement, MiCASSA makes the existing entitlement more flexible.
MiCASSA establishes a national program of community-based attendant services and supports for people with disabilities, regardless of age or disability. This bill would allow the dollars to follow the person, and allow eligible individuals, or their representatives, to choose where they would receive services and supports. Any individual who is entitled to nursing home or other institutional services will now have the choice where and how these services are provided. The two million Americans currently residing in nursing homes and other institutions would finally have a choice.
Kyle, who has cerebral palsy, uses a Liberator communication device, which converts typed words into spoken speech. He's in college now, planning to go to law school, and is a full-time activist. He says, "There's no distinction between my regular life and my life as an activist. I'm in this 24/7."
Kyle is one of the coolest young people I've ever met. He is truly a future leader of his movement.
Photos of Kyle addressing Congress and the DNC here and here, and tons of information about MiCASSA on this website.