Children's Community Mental Hell Overview:
We have had several personal E-mail requests for an update for the original three sets of articles that we published regarding how many of our children with disabilities are being funneled through the criminal justice system in many states instead of receiving the help they are entitled to. Recently we read an article on Newsvine regarding how VA is considering a similar policy that allows this to happen in MI and just two days another article posted on Newsvine about how they may be able to test for Autism in children as young as 6 month's. This article gave us more hope for new parents than any we have read in a long time. (Link posted at the end of this article).
Therefore we decided it was time to provide an update. Although we have settled one lawsuit there are still some pending actions so we cannot provide a full accounting for what has transpired and need to be somewhat careful of what we say in this piece for now.
First and foremost we wish anyone reading this piece to know that you should not view this as depressing article. Although there are many travesties along the journey our family was forced to take, we are together and grateful for so many things. We ask only that you (the reader) take the time to understand what is being done to so many of our disabled children, as having an enlightened and vigilant public is the only thing that can stop this from continuing. If you have not read the first three articles we apologize for the length of this read however to fully understand where we are now, you must know the history and what is being inflicted on many of the most vulnerable children in our society and their families.
Our son was adopted at 2.5 years of age and over time it was quite apparent there were going to be some sever disorders to deal with. For years our local Community Mental Health Department and the school system minimized his disabilities that we would later find out is quite self-serving of these agency's. Before we were able to get our son the help he was entitled both of us were forced to give up our careers, our son lost a decade of receiving the help he was entitled to, we were forced to take our Community Mental Health Department to court, filed bankruptcy, and spent several months fighting daily for his rights. If you did not read the first three articles chronically our journey they begin below, if you did read them, you may jump to the end of this article to obtain the update.
The beginning: (From Children's Community Mental Hell Part 1)
This series of articles will be dedicated to documenting a journey of one unfortunate child who was a consumer of a Community Mental Health organization in MI that not only had his true disabilities denied for years by his local CMH, they also tried to have him funneled through the criminal justice system to avoid their responsibility. We will also try to provide some information for parents that may feel their Community Mental Health organizationor schools are not providing them the assistance that their child may be entitled to. These articles chronicle how this child was denied help for years and how his parents that were determined to help him were both were forced to give up professional careers and into financial ruin to assure his rights were protected from the same organization that was responsible to help him. Discrimination comes in many forms and discriminating against the most vulnerable in our society is the worst form.
To understand how this could occur, it is important to understand the unfortunate beginnings of the child’s life and what lead up to the continued appalling behavior of the Community Mental Health organization. For this series of articles we will refer to this unfortunate child as "Joey".
Joey is currently a 15 year old young man struggling with Autism, Mental Retardation, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and many of the behavioral problems associated with these disorders. It is important to understand that Joey did not ask to have a biological mother that drank and used drugs during the pregnancy. He did not ask to be neglected as a baby. He did not ask to be dropped off and left for days with strangers including a convicted child molester. He did not ask to inherit his biological parent’s disorders. He did not ask for corn and peanut allergies. And he did not ask for a Mega Colon and other health problems.
When baby Joey was two and half years old his aunt who had never met him and could not have children of her own jumped at the opportunity to adopt Joey and become a mother. Joey did not know it yet but he now had a mother that would sacrifice everything for him. Out of all the terrible things that had happened to Joey in his short life he was for the first time going to have something go his way and he would have an advocate that would stand by him no matter what. Joey could not and may never understand how lucky he was for this one thing in his life that was good. Little did his adoptive mother know that she would be tested in ways that she could ever imagine. It was only her unconditional commitment and love that could get her through the pain, violence, screaming, yelling, name calling, insatiable demands of her attention, sleepless nights, being ostracized by members of her community, never having anytime to herself, never having even a night out, or the numerous other behaviors that Joey would display that could not allow her to live a life with any hope of even an hour of normalcy. Nor could Joey's mother ever imagine that the organizations and people that should be helping her with Joey (Community Mental Health, Schools, Psychiatrists, etc.) would dismiss her and in many ways be the largest obstructionists in trying to help Joey.
Joey's adoptive mother was contacted by her family and told that his biological mother was going to lose custody of him if a family member did not adopt Joey. All she was really told by the family was that Joey was a handful. Again, not being able to have children of her own and wishing nothing more than to be a mother, she was more than willing to take Joey. In fact during her sisters pregnancy she had offered to adopt Joey then as she knew her sister was having massive issues at the time. If in fact Joey's biological mother and family had thought at the time and done the right thing, maybe Joey would have not had what would become the biggest issue that both he and his adoptive mother would struggle with for many years.
Although it will be impossible to describe what life was like with Joey it is important to understand how his disabilities manifested themselves and what his mother was up against. At the age 2.5 when she adopted him she had to fly him from the state of his birth to MI. The plane ride was going to be an indication of what she would now face for many years although she did not know it yet. During the flight she could not keep Joey restrained and when asked to hold him he reared back and broke her nose. This was the beginning of what would change her life forever.
Even with all this she never once failed to try to help Joey with the limited resources she had, or did she ever fail to each and every night after all the multiple fights of the day fail to tell Joey that she was the luckiest mama ever and that he was the best son any mama could ever have.
Joey's Life: (From Children's Community Mental Hell Part 2)
Although it will be impossible to describe the hell that would face Joey and his mother as they struggled through life together, we will touch on a few examples and try to explain the behaviors that are associated to the disorders that Joey continues to struggle with.
During the first month at home with his new mother Joey seemed to be in a world of his own. His mother was sure that he was deaf as he was non-responsive to verbal prompts and could not speak. He did have a language all his own although it made no sense to anyone. His mother tried banging pots behind him and he would not respond. She would put him to bed each night and try to read him a story although Joey would not give any clue that he understood. Joey did not know how to play with toys and would only pick them up and throw them over his shoulder. His mother quickly decided that she needed to have his hearing checked and found that his hearing was perfect.
When Joey was hungry, thirsty, needed changed, or needed another need met, he would scream, yell, or bang his head on the floor, stove, table or whatever was available sending everyone scrambling to find what he needed. He would stay up into the wee hours in the morning crying and screaming and not allowing his mother a minutes rest. Joey's mother set out working with Joey as best she could. Her first breakthrough was after about a month of each night reading Joey a bed time story and asking him to point to the picture of a bird in the book when Joey finally tentatively did. This was the first time that she had any indication that Joey could even understand anything that was being said to him.
The first year was a real struggle for his mother. Finding a day care that could try to manage Joey was very difficult. This would be an on-going problem that when Joey became older could not even be done. Joey's mother also after a year ended her marriage of 18 years as she could not take care of Joey and her husband. Her marriage had not been a good one for many years and she knew it was time to focus on Joey and a new life. So thus began the life that her and Joey would know for several years as they struggled alone with only each other.
During the early years together his mother struggled to maintain a job to support her and Joey and began seeking out professionals that may be able to assist. She was told to get Joey enrolled in the "Early On" program through their school as he was delayed and would just need a lot of love and help. Joey had several health issues that also needed to be addressed as with many young kids do. (Tonsils, adenoids, tubes for his ears, and allergies.) Joey's mother began reading as much as she could and trying to diagnose his real issues herself as it appeared no one was really understanding what she was up against. Joey now at three years of age was going to school and riding a bus for over an hour and half a day. His mother would put Joey on the bus each morning with a tag pinned to his coat with his name, address, and a personal note from his mother as Joey could not speak and had not yet formed any kind of knowledge about people in general. He was still very much in his own world and all women were mama.
During Joey's early years it was very difficult to maintain a day care that could handle Joey. His mother missed several days of work due to his behaviors and health issues. Joey's mother was forced to change jobs several times and finally had to start her own consulting business so that she could have the time available that was needed to take care of Joey. His mother had started him seeing a professional counseling center at an early age and had taken him to Henry Ford Hospital for psychological testing. Henry Ford Hospital had diagnosed him with Global Mental Retardation. The professional counseling center had recommended several medications, speech therapy, and recommended things that Joey's mother could try at home. Through all of this, Joey's mother kept researching on her own for answers and working with Joey every evening on developing play skills, learning to speak, and trying everything she could to minimize the behaviors that were increasing in intensity as he grew larger. At one point she had read that there were new studies indicating that maybe placing Joey on a gluten free diet may help. She had also found information on a disability called Reactive Attachment Disorder that she believed fit some of Joey's behaviors. She had talked with theschool professionals and let them know that she was placing Joey on a gluten free diet and would be sending all his meals to school with him and then asked them about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD's). The school dismissed her on RAD's andon several occasions sabotaged the gluten free diet by giving in to Joey at school to try to minimize his behaviors. Joey's grandmother was also not convinced that the gluten free diet was the right thing to do although Joey's mother fully believed it was helping. His grandmother convinced her to take Joey to the University of MI for an exam and to find out about the diet. The University of MI chastised Joey's mother for having him gluten free and she was forced to give up on this even though Joey seemed to improve and was actually performing better in school. This is now a fairly accepted practice for children with Autism. The school by sabotaging her efforts, and the University of MI by not understanding the full extent of Joey's disabilities, were only the first of many organizations that would dismiss her and be detrimental in helping Joey during his early years when progress may have actually been made.
During this time Joey's mother had a chance encounter with someone at company she was working at that would several years later change her life. Other than school time, Joey would take up nearly 100% of his mother’s time. Joey could not dress himself, take care of his personal needs, was not fully potty trained, could not be left alone at any time, and would rarely play on his own. Joey's mother found it difficult to take of herself, have any private time, or even to get the grocery store, or due the daily things we take for granted like cleaning the house or running errands. Joey's mother kept using her nighttime hours to read and research the behaviors that Joey exhibited along with working him each day. Some of the things about Joey's behaviors that were really striking included his obsessions, inability to transition from one activity to another, becoming extremely agitated when told "No", having violent outbursts multiple times a day, not being able to form friendships, preoccupations with blood and gore, hiding in the dark, the constant need to get his own way, and all things scary. Joey would also shy away from hugs, work himself into a frenzy with balls or stuffed animals, fight going to bed, and the more he got close to his mother the more he tried to punish her. Transporting Joey was extremely dangerous as he would throw objects in the vehicle, grab the steering wheel, or rip parts of the car out if he was not getting his way.
The professional counseling center finally recommended that Joey's mother contact her local Community Mental Health to obtain the services that Joey needed as they felt they could help more. This was the start of a relationship with this organization that she could never foresee how truly appalling it would become or how unconscionable there actions would be.
At the age of seven, Joey's mother took the advice of the professional counseling center that was trying to assist Joey and enrolled him with his local Community Mental Health in the thumb area of MI. In the beginning she was very appreciative for the help that she believed she was receiving from them. They offered her about 200 hours of respite a year, provided a case worker that visited once a month, scheduled Joey for a once a month Psychiatrist visit, and assisted her in getting Joey Medicaid coverage. During the next few years Joey grew larger and harder to handle. Although the Community Mental Health offered her respite hours she found it very difficult to find anyone on their list that was willing or able to handle Joey. For a couple of summers she was able to juggle work with one respite provider whose husband was a police officer by working on a consulting basis rather being a full time employee. Although she had to offer this person half of her salary to watch Joey, she still felt she was providing for the two of them.
During these few years Joey was attending the Intermediate School District which had performed some testing on Joey and they had rated his I.Q. at 71. (This is important as anything below 70 would have placed Joey into range of Mental Retardation.) Also during this time Joey was placed on several medications by the Community Mental Health Agency Psychiatrist that were changed frequently. Each time Joey may show some slight improvement for a brief period of time although none were ever effective. The Community Mental HealthDepartment labeled Joey with Asperger’s (a mild form of Autism), Reactive Attachment Disorder, and several behaviorialor not otherwise specified disorders. Occasionally these diagnoses would change slightly although they were always held within the confines of disorders that would not allow him to access additional resources through their system. Each time his mother would talk withthecase manager when she was at her wits end they would offer to provide additional respite (which she could not use) and offer to change his medications so that she could have the strength to stick it out a little longer and see if there were any improvements.
Through these years the school called the police on several occasions due to behaviors on the bus or at school. At home the violence level increased with his size. Although the violence may have not been any more frequent it became more unmanageable as he grew. Each month the case manager would come into the home and discuss his wife, hobbies, people he knew, and everything else without providing any answers or assistance. On several occasions Joey was taken to the Community Mental Health agency during outbursts at school. Joey, peed in their lobby with a police officer present during one visit and during another crisis the agency flagged down a police officer outside their building because they were afraid he may become violent.
This would only be a few of the many instances that were to come and lead to the battles with her Community Mental Health Agency that she could never in-vision in her wildest dreams.
The unconscionable actions of a Community Mental Health agency?: (From Children's Community Mental Hell Part 3)
Just before Joey’s 11thbirthday his mother was reacquainted with someone she had met almost seven years ago at a place she had been working at the time. Little did she know that this person had thought of her for many years and although he was traveling extensively he had been sending her messages for years from wherever in the world he may be. Even though he knew she probably would never access that E-mail account again, he could not help but try as she had touched him deeply when they first met. (As he would put it later, on many nights during flights or driving from one destination to another he would see her vision in his mind’s eye and remember how impressive of a person she was. That night when he arrived at his destination he would then send a message from wherever he was like throwing out a message in a bottle.) When she stumbled upon her old E-mail account she found messages that he had been sending to her for all those years. She found messages that had been sent every few months for years. The last had only been sent a couple weeks prior to her accessing this account so she decided to write. He was in California although still living in MI and they began to chat on the Internet, talk on the phone, and send one another E-mail messages. Soon they would have a chance to meet again in person after 7 years and they developed a very strong relationship that would later lead to marriage. Over the next several months her lost friend would have the opportunity to accept the Plant Managers position at the business she was consulting with. Together they began researching Joey’s disabilities and trying together to help Joey.
Over the next two years they both began talking to Joey’s case manager at his monthly visit, going to psychiatrist visits together, visiting the school together, and beginning to become a family. Joey did not accept his mother having a new person in her life and she questioned if she was doing the right thing. She was afraid that her new love may not be willing to do what it would take to stick it out with her and Joey as life was so difficult, she was afraid that her new love would not want to be stuck in a small town as he was used to traveling to differing locations throughout the world each week for the last ten years, she felt it was unfair that Joey could not accept her having a new person in her life, and she was afraid she could not focus on a relationship as Joey consumed almost all of her time. One night she even told him that he needed to find someone else and he responded that he would go if that is what she wished however he had waited 7 years and would wait her out if needed as he knew she was the one for him. Only time began to alleviate these fears and they both knew that no matter what came their way they would face it together as a family.
As time went on they knew their time was limited to help Joey as additional incidents with Joey had caused injuries to other children, extensive property damage, and both of them had sustained injuries during some of Joey’s outbursts. Respite was now impossible as no one could watch Joey. The frequency of the school having his mother pick him up from school or asking her not to send him were increasing and finally Joey’s mother was forced to give up work entirely and stay home with Joey. She did this for a summer and Joey’s demand for her attention just increased. Her fiancé now managing the company they both worked at was able to retain some of her consulting services that she could perform at home. He knew he was losing his most talented resource but also knew Joey needed her and that there was no other choice. During that summer Joey’s mother tried with every bit of her energy to form an attachment with Joey that she hoped would help Joey. Her fiancé would hurry home each day for lunch and right after work hoping nothing bad happened to either of them. In the two years they had been dating they had only really had one night out alone. As things continued to get worse because Joey had figured out he was now physically capable of pushing his way through his mother to get his way things became very dangerous. At one point her fiancé pulled the case manager aside and told him to make no mistake about it, things were life threatening on a daily basis. Due to the Reactive Disorder, Joey had threatened to kill her and her fiancé on many occasions, hidden scissors under his mattress, taken a knife to his mother, hit both of them, and would throw dangerous objects when upset. When the case manager would come into the home he would witness the holes in the wall, see other property damage, be informed of Joey running her off the road during transport, Joey eloping, told of issues at school, and of all the other behavior issues they were dealing with. The case manager from Community Mental Health would at each visit say there was nothing they could do to assist.
When Joey was 13, his mother and fiancé were married. When they were married, they had a quick service and included Joey in the service, then took Joey bowling as they could not get anyone to watch Joey for a couple of days so that they could have a two day honeymoon on Mackinaw Island that they have saved for. His new stepfather was sure that the Community Mental Health Agency was not handling Joey’s case properly and that they were not providing the services that they should be. He kept prodding Joey’s mother to take a harder stance with that agency and letting her know that even though he did not know exactly what they should be doing, that he had dealt with organizations for many years and he could tell they were not being honest about what may be available. Joey’s mother could not believe they would intentionally withhold services and was still so appreciative of the little help they were receiving that she was not willing to press them. She accepted that this was all Joey could get for help and when they kept telling her there was no money to help these children that they were stating actual facts. Joey’s mother was convinced that if Joey were to get any help that she was the only one that could do it so she enrolled in on-line college courses to get her psychology degree and would stay up until the early hours of the morning to try accomplish this as she could not get any time during the day to do this.
At this point Joey’s stepfather knew he had to give up his career as well to stay home with Joey and his mother to keep everyone safe. Joey’s disabilities (especially the Reactive Attachment Disorder) made the control battles unbearable at times for all of them. They were both now home with Joey at all times. Many days the control battles were so intense that neither his mother nor stepfather would be able to eat or shower. Joey’s stepfather had started a business several years before that they were both able to run from their home and at least make the monthly bills. When either of them had to leave the home for grocery’s, run to the bank or post office, or try to get to a doctor’s appointment they literally ran to the parking lot, hurried to complete the task, and got back home as quickly as possible as they feared what may happen with only one of them home with Joey. Again, all of this was reported to their Community Mental Health agency each and every month. They discussed all of these issues with their case manager, psychiatrist, and others. Transporting Joey to school was getting worse and the school had even tried providing Joey with his own bus with an aid and in a harness and even then they were forced to pull the bus over and call the police. On one occasion he was taken from the school to Community Mental Health and they indicated a 24 hour intervention was warranted. They arranged for a family to take Joey for the night. About three hours later the parents were called by the respite provider indicating they were afraid to have Joey in their home. The parents were forced to pick up Joey late that Friday night and transport him home during an ice storm. Joey was having a violent episode and his stepfather had to ride in the back seat and restrain Joey while his mother drove them through the storm back to their home. The Community Mental Health agency had made no backup plans and did not even check in until the parents called them the following Monday. For the next year the parents were forced to try to home school Joey and were secluded with Joey in their apartment with no help at all.
In the same month that Joey turned 14 things at home were going from bad to worse. They had been forced to call their local police department on numerous occasions for assistance. To make a living Joey’s stepfather had to leave the home for one day and his mother was forced to call the police for an intervention on three separate occasions in one night. Finally with no other options Joey’s mother let her husband “off the leash” as she put it to try to see what other assistance the Community Mental Health agency could provide. Joey’s stepfather setup a meeting with the Director of the Community Mental Health agency and requested the best possible plan they could provide for Joey. He also pointed out that the agency had not provided anyone for respite in over two years and that each periodic review for the last two years had noted that they were looking for suitable respite staff. This meeting was contentious and Joey’s stepfather pointed out how the failures of the agency were affecting their family. The Director of the Community Mental Health indicated he would send out his best respite tech., something that they had never even been informed existed in the agency. He also offered to transport Joey to his upcoming psychiatrist visit by one of their on-staff drivers, which again the parents had never been told was available within the agency. The respite tech. showed up the next day and the parents knew he would not be able to handle Joey. They drove around the block for about 45 minutes then came in to check on them. Joey had hosed him down outside, flooded the kitchen, and had the respite tech. on the ropes. The parents sent him back to the Community Health agency that day and agreed to try it once more the next day as the Community Mental Health agency had not provided the respite tech. with any information regarding Joey. The next day the parents once again drove around the block for about 30 minutes and came back into the home to find that Joey had entered their bedroom on numerous occasions which they had managed to keep off limits as all the knives and other dangerous objects were hidden there. More importantly by having their room off limits Joey’s mother had a safe haven when her husband was out running errands. Joey was also having a tantrum and knew he was going to be in trouble. Joey began throwing objects and ripping the shelving units out of his closet. The parents called the police for an intervention.
Three separate police departments showed up and the respite tech. told them there was no way the parents could do this alone with Joey. When the Chief of Police requested to talk with someone in charge at the Community Mental Health agency he was connected to the Director of Clinical Psychology. The Director tried to have the Chief of Police to have Joey petitioned through the criminal justice system which he documented in his report. The Chief of Police explained that this was a mental health issue and that he would not press charges on a child with the mind of a five year old. During the conversations Joey’s mother asked her husband if they could take Joey to a private facility about an hour away until they could figure this out as the police department had been in the home three times this week and said they could not keep doing this. (This was the only facility in MI the parents were aware of that may be able to help.) The only option they were given by the Community Mental Health agency was to transport Joey across the state and have him evaluated with no guarantee that they would admit Joey for a three day evaluation and stabilization. This would have entailed driving Joey five hours to be evaluated and if not admitted transporting him back. This was not an acceptable solution as transporting Joey anywhere was dangerous and it was already late in the afternoon. (Night time was the worst with Joey and the parents on many nights were battling Joey until the early hours of the morning even in their home.) The parents elected to get Joey to a safe place so they could deal with the Community Mental Health agency the next day and find out what could be done for Joey.
The following day Joey’s stepfather once again met with Community Mental Health and the Director who offered to up their 800 useless hours of respite to 1,600 useless hours a year as they had no one that could provide the respite service for Joey. He provided a written response to them indicating their only two choices were to give up their parental rights or have Joey obtain assistance in the criminal justice system. (It is important to know that during all these years, with all the behaviors that Joey exhibited, with the fact Joey could not function within the bounds of school or society in general, and all the things that Joey's mother had informed them of, the Community Mental Health organization never once suggested that Joey obtain testing for his mental conditions, never once suggested his mother seek out other professional opinions, and never once even informed her of the services that may be available if Joey had differing diagnosis. Joey's parents now must assume that the Community Mental Health agency and school were well aware of what they would have to provide if this was ever done and were avoiding getting Joey properly evaluated to keep from doing so. Joey's mother on several occasions had told her case worker she would cut off her own legs if she could just get help for Joey.)
That night they sat on their patio and decided no matter what the outcome they would risk everything to get Joey the help that he needed. They then contacted an attorney and began a long process of trying to get Joey help. Over the next several weeks the parents kept Joey in the private facility while their attorney battled the Community Mental Health agency. The costs were over $750 a day in this facility that they were not prepared to sustain for more than a couple of weeks although they knew they had to keep Joey safe. The private facility had extremely well trained staff and indicated there was no way they should have been attempting this alone and there was no way that Joey should not have been getting assistance for years. Joey was safe and for the first time people were around Joey that really understood and acknowledged the extent of Joey’s disabilities. As the legal battle raged with the Community Mental Health agency a person form the Community Mental Health Department in Lansing was called in and recommended a third party assessment of Joey. As their Community Mental Health Department had no choice but to accept the assessment was scheduled. Joey was residing in the private facility under their respite program as if the parents had allowed him to be treated they would become responsible and let their Community Mental Health agency off the hook. The assessment showed that Joey was likely suffering from Mental Retardation, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and other behavioral issues. Their Community Mental Health agency now tried to skirt their responsibility by having a doctor who had never met Joey and was not provided with current information, write an opinion in contradiction to this. By the recommendation of the state office Joey was finally transferred to Hawthorn which is the only remaining mental institution for children in MI. Although Hawthorn did not take developmentally delayed children the state was able to gain admittance for Joey to be properly assessed and to have his medications evaluated. This process took over three months and the parents were now responsible for over $70,000.00 for his time there.
While at Hawthorn Joey was tested and his medications changed. The testing showed that his IQ was in the low forty’s instead of 71 that the school had given him. He tested fully on the Autism Spectrum instead of at the higher range of Asperger’s as the Community Mental Health agency had always indicated. Joey was also diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and behavioral issues associated to these disorders. As the parents would now find out Joey was eligible for Community Living Support Staff, occupational therapy, increased visits by a therapist, home aids, additional help at school, and much more. They also learned that the State of MI provides assistance to the local Community Mental Health agencies for severely disabled children. They have also learned that Community Mental Health agencies are allowed to roll over some unused funds provided by Medicaid into their general funds and they wonder if this is how a Community Mental Health in a rural county could build a new building and seem to have the dollars to do much of what they wish, rather than providing the services to those that are in true need. They realize these children require a huge financial commitment although they also know it is within their rights and that these children and their families did not ask for the disorders they must suffer with each day. The Community Mental Health agency was still fighting the whole process as they were now responsible to provide these services and they allowed Joey to remain in the state hospital for the next few months although he could have been released after 30 days.
The parents have now incurred over $70,000 in legal fees and over $70,000 for the private facility that they had no choice but to use to keep Joey safe while they fought for him. They have lost over another $250,000 in lost income. They have both lost their careers and their lives will never be the same. At this time Joey is finally receiving services in line with his disabilities and which were within his right all along. Although the parents are pursuing legal actions against the Community Mental Health agency to recover some of the stay in the private facility, they can never get back the lost years that Joey could have been helped. They only have the hope of recovering a small portion of the cost of this fight and in MI cannot recover attorney fees.
After all of this, when asked, they would not change what they did. Although the Community Mental Health agency still fights every request, is not providing staffing appropriate for his disorders and physical size, admits they have not assisted a youth to this extent in over a decade, admits they do not have the experience with children with these disabilities, and the parents feel the Community Mental Health agency continues to fail in many ways as far as they are concerned, Joey’s true disabilities are being recognized by many and Joey is receiving far more assistance than he was before. The parents are also thankful that Joey is not in the criminal justice system as it appears to them that this was always the intent of the Community Mental Health agency so that the criminal justice system would be responsible for the financial burden. (Many have stated that if Joey had been entered into the criminal justice system that it would be a travesty and that he would have never gotten out of the system.) The parents believe there is no way anyone could review Joey’s history, view his daily behaviors, talk with Joey, and not know his disabilities were far more severe than was recognized by their Community Mental Health agency or the school district. Joey’s parents are now looking into starting an advocacy group to assist parents so they will not have to suffer what they had to in order to get their child the help they may desperately need.
Although Joey’s parents have no idea what the future will bring, if they will ever be able to get back on sound financial footing, what theirs and Joey’s future will hold, they know in their hearts that they did the right thing and that they are together.
Children's Community Mental Hell Update:
In October of 2011 we were forced to accept an out of court settlement with our Community Mental Health department for about a third of the costs that were incurred from lawyers fees and his time at the private facility that Joey stayed in prior to be moved to the state mental institution where he was properly diagnosed. This does not include all the lost wages and damage that was caused to our business. If we had not taken this settlement the Community Mental Health agency attorney's had indicated they would appeal the courts decision and drag this out for years. As we knew we must move from our county to be close to family for natural supports and that our county would never provide staffing that could really help Joey. We moved from the county in the thumb of MI to Mid-Michigan where our daughter lives.
Once here, we have found that this county appears to actually concerned with our child and has taken the time to get know Joey and our family. They assisted in finding staffing that could work with Joey properly, put a plan in place to help him with his disabilities, and have supported our efforts in getting him back into school. Since October, Joey has made more progress than at any time in his life. My wife and I have been able to feel comfortable letting Joey attend events in the community with his staff. Joey is now having more good days than bad. The staffing supports the behavioral plan and our goals as parents and together we are to provide much more consistency with Joey that is helping him succeed. Joey is able to routinely go to a sports center near by and play basketball, work out in the weight rooms, and play tennis. Since October Joey has been able to attend more outings than in past several years combined. He began attending school on limited basis in January for the first time in two years. We have the confidence as parents that if we wished to escape for an evening that Joey would be safe with his staff. My wife and I have visited my mother and daughter more in the last few months than in the last 4 years combined. Joey has gotten new doctors that have assisted with his intestinal issues more than ever in his past. Joey is even developing a sense of humor which is wonderful to see.
We are still dealing with issues from the CHM in the thumb of MI so we cannot give any more information from this at this time. We are beginning to get our business back up and running and are very hopeful that we begin making a decent living once more. We must say that through all of this we have never once taken unemployment or any other assistance from the state. Some weeks it is very difficult to make it although we seem to just squeak by each month so far.
We continue to believe we did the right thing and would not change what we had to do to get Joey appropriate help as now he may have a chance to succeed. We know that Joey will need some help his entire life and are very thankful that he may be able to have a life instead of being incarcerated for something he had no control over and did not ask for.
As parents, we are more determined than ever to bring this cause to light and fight for all the children that may be facing the same fate that Joey was facing. We are determined to start a family advocacy group to give parents the information they need to protect their children.
We thank all of those that have asked of Joey and have tried pass along this information to others to try to affect change in an obviously broken system.
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