Indiana state legislators were told this week that some state workers suggested dropping adults with developmental disabilities at homeless shelters if they cannot be cared for at home.
Becky Holladay was under the impression that her son Cameron, 22, who has autism, intellectual disability, epilepsy and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, was on a state waiting list for the Medicaid waiver since 1996 and recently learned that his name was never added to the list. When her response was “what are we to do?” the voice on the other end of the phone said, “take him to a homeless shelter and drop him off.”
This is the testimony that Holladay gave before the Indiana Commission on Developmental Disabilities on Tuesday. Her response was,“That’s my child. I have raised him. I refuse to take him to a homeless shelter.” Becky Holladay’s account was not the first for this state, in fact one lawmaker said it was the fourth such story she’d heard while sitting on the commission. Rep. Suzanne Crouch responded to Holladay’s testimony, “I just find is deplorable that people are being told to go to homeless shelters. That’s not an option. That’s not a solution.” Last month, legislators received written testimony during a commission meeting from another Indiana parent who said that if her daughter did not receive a waiver before turning 18, staff at the residential placement where she has been schooled for years said they would either send the girl home or bring her to a homeless shelter.
But this week officials at the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, which oversees developmental disability services, said that the agency knows of no instances where an employee has suggested a homeless shelter. “We don’t know of any documented cases. She can’t even tell us when it happened or who said it,” the administration’s spokesman Marcus Barlow said of Holladay’s accusations. Barlow said it is not the agency’s policy to suggest a homeless shelter and that an employee who did so would be disciplined and possibly fired. Barlow said the agency has offered several options to Holladay, including group homes and institutional care, but she has declined.
Holladay told legislators that she wants her son to continue living at home, but needs help caring for him during the day so that she and her husband can work. Currently, Cameron sits in a pickup truck outside his dad’s workplace all day.
Who do you believe?