Mom finds no help for disabled daughter
Born prematurely with mild cerebral palsy, Kasey Camp, 8, can’t talk. She communicates with a chalkboard, her hands and huge saucer-eyes, the rich color of dark chocolate.
“Maaa” is Mom. Everything else is a whimper or a sing-songy moan. Weighing 37 pounds, she’s the size of most 5-year-olds.
A single mother of three kids with an administrative assistant’s salary, Kasey’s mother, Amy Garland, says it’s nearly impossible to find after-school care for her special-needs daughter.
After two years of fighting to get Kasey into the city’s after-school Latch Key program, Garland finally proved her daughter was potty-trained and won a spot last August.
But last week workers complained to the Parks and Recreation Department that Kasey’s behavior was disruptive and unmanageable.
“She was written up twice, once for biting and once for hitting,” Garland said. “They said she pulled one of the workers’ hair this last time.”
Kasey is usually gregarious, trusting and friendly, but sometimes gets frustrated with her limitations and demands attention, Garland said. Garland doesn’t refute the employees’ claims.
Wednesday, Parks and Recreation Director Roger Moellendorf and Supervisor Scott Keith told Garland that Kasey can no longer attend the Latch Key program. Her last day was supposed to be today.
“We do consider (Kasey’s) behavior a risk to our employees,” Moellendorf said Thursday. “She has special needs our employees are not trained to handle, and it’s probably the wrong environment for her. I believe it’s probably more of a disservice to her.”
But after discussing Kasey’s situation with Carson City Manager Linda Ritter, Moellendorf said he will give Kasey another week to allow Garland time to find a more suitable after-school care program.
He said city employees are also trying to find acceptable care for Kasey, but have been unlucky so far.
Garland said a week is hardly enough time to find a program that simply does not exist for a single parent with her income.
“There is nothing out there for her,” Garland said. “I make too much money to qualify for state help. I’m at the end of my rope.”
She received assistance from the Nevada Regional Center to pay for part of the Latch Key program, but she can’t find any other government programs in the area that offer affordable care for families like hers with an income too high to qualify for welfare.
Even with the help from a support group she and her friend, Maryanna Moyer, formed for parents with special-needs kids, Garland is stumped.
“The only way I can get help is to get rich and hire in-home care or stop working, go on welfare, stay at home and let the state take care of us,” Garland said. “I’m not willing to do that.”
Nevada Department of Human Resources Director Michael Willden said the state’s child-care assistance programs are based on family income, but there may be some wiggle room with mental health and disabilities programs in Kasey’s case.
“There are some more flexible resources there,” Willden said. “We’ll have to look at (Garland’s) income then look at the child’s disability, but I’ve heard of worse cases than this.”
Willden said he will call Garland to discuss her options.
But Garland said she’s already talked to mental health and disability services staff, only to find Kasey’s disability isn’t severe enough to qualify for any care.
So, she keeps picking up the phone and calling anyone who may be able to give her some good advice.
Her next call, she said, is to a lawyer if she can’t find some affordable assistance.
Lynn Digley, a rights attorney with the Nevada Disability Advocacy and Law center in Sparks, said if worse comes to worse, she may be able to help.
“I’ve got to talk to (Garland) first,” Digley said.
Contact reporter Robyn Moormeister at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.