This is a fundraiser to help make sure I have enough cash to properly place my special needs teenage son into a mid-term to long-term residential treatment center and school program that can meet his needs.
UPDATE 1/20/13: T. has finally stabilized enough to be able to move into a temporary living situation in N. Portland that can meet his immediate needs at this time. This should finally allow me to be able to get moving on the mid-term to long-term placement. These last two weeks, we have been fighting simply to get him into acute/sub-acute care or an alternative placement to help him get stabilized. Because they failed to hospitalize him simply put he has been technically "homeless" as we could not get him into the proper setting but unable to return home. This temporary solution now in place should be able to give me time to sort out the issues with the intersection of the multiple systems education, mental health, medical, child welfare, etc. The change in insurance that allowed him into temporary crisis respite for 7 days then triggered a denial to move him into the right level of care acute/sub-acute. Again this system is broken as he had not had any real mental health treatment in this crisis since December -- all appointments have been just quick status checks, shuffling paperwork and there is a lot of that and troubleshooting the homelessness. So he remains at high risk for another incident.
This new placement has costs to the family that are not picked up by his health insurance. I must pay for 13 days of his care this month and the entire month of February. While at the same time the money provided to me to pay for specialized care for him is being cut by 50%. It really is quite insane logic but at this point I am willing to sell everything I have to get him the care he needs. But that too takes time and effort -- which right now I need to focus on the upcoming meetings with mental health and social service agencies in Oregon as well as the public schools here.
Our original goal was $3K and we reached that in just over the first week. At this point, as the school issue has continued to spiral out of control -- he has now been technically withdrawn by the district despite being under technical care of a mental health team as they have worked to get him hospitalized and properly treated. So over $2K has already been spent just to retain an education and disability rights lawyer to stop the continuing insanity and violations of his rights. We also need the district to finish up his IEP (Individualized Education Plan) as it will carry with him wherever he goes.
So I am having to up the goal to $4K to get a cushion back so that I can travel to look at these Level 12 sites and still have money left to transport him back to the bay area when we find an opening and can get the contracts signed to place him.
We have funding for the placement lined up and some strong referrals but just not the cash to properly investigate and choose the right placement especially as he remains in an active mental health crisis.
The root issue being the school district's ongoing failures to support him effectively and proactively for the last 18 months.
The most recent exponentially horrible failing began with a racial incident on a football field here in Oregon this September -- and the fallout that continues to spiral from that. He has been hospitalized twice in the last two weeks and the ER and psychiatric ward are not the place to get help.
This fundraising is for money for me to travel back and forth from Oregon to Northern California and look at facilities, lots of extra phone minutes on my cell, rental car and gas, etc. Plus funds to transport him to that placement when a bed is available and contracts are signed.
I need to be able to meet with several staff members of multiple potential placements (currently looking for Level 12 or less residential treatment) to undertand their programs and if they would work well or further trigger trauma or create a crisis with a further change of placement in the future.
I've been back in school myself for the last 18 months in an effort to have flexibility to try and help actively parent him 24x7, handle his complex health, developmental and mental health needs and make the systems work here in Oregon. The hope had been that these chronic issues could be successfully planned for and handled -- and he could remain in our home.
Unfortunately despite a strong team of supporters and specialists we've cobbled together here it does not seem like that is possible -- so the best option is to have him return to Northern California where there are more specialists with specific experience and programs to work with kids who have brain wiring and nervous systems like him.
I feel this day was avoidable 6 months ago and have advocated non-stop but after a continuing series of events at school (including mental and physical abuse by a school volunteer, unrelenting bullying that is escalating, lack of adequate support for his specific defined learning disabilities, etc.) and then brought into our home from new trauma at school -- with no realistic solution in sight -- we are where we are.
He only has 20 months left as a teenager and no time to waste in helping him refocus his life and be able to make the choices he needs to graduate high school and plan for life afterwards.
We already downsized our lives in the move to Oregon and then with me returning to school -- college level poverty with two special needs kids has not been fun. I have no credit limit left, no cash for what is required to find a placement, but a lot of friends and allies. Hopefully you.
So what we need is cash to smooth the way for my travel and site selection for his placement into residential treatment -- something insurance nor social service agencies will pay. The transit down for him after selection might get some reimbursement a few months later. But the big cost is travel, gas, and phone. I plan to couch surf and eat with friends to save money on places to stay. Plus some funds to allow me time to be able to stay in the area in CA to have further meetings to get his educational issues setup properly there as well.
This really may take several days of flying back and forth to meet with people in CA awhile also juggling keeping him and my other son stable.
Right now I am focused on meeting the immediate -- nightly need of getting my teenager care, getting him stable again and keeping him safely out of the wrong social systems (juvenile injustice & child welfare) that might screw up a seamless placement into residential treatment and in the right systems mental health & developmental disabilities. So all my cash has been spent on that this month just dealing with that. My family has helped financially and is helping in other ways as well -- but now it is time to ask friends.
We plan to relocate back to SF Bay area this summer but my younger son also who has special needs (language/communications delays, attachment disorder) and who has blossomed here in Oregon -- and has been a victim in all this -- really needs to finish out the school year here so he doesn't have a setback in this crazy time.
So please LIKE this post and post a comment of encouragement -- all three of us need it right now. Then consider supporting this fundraiser. Please consider sharing this and encouraging your sympathetic friends to support us.
We don't necessarily need more advice or more rabbit holes to go down -- right now we have a plan developed with his specialists in 2 different states (some of the best in the nation) and just need to follow the plan and get him the help he needs before it is too late. We don't need much but we need it in the next week. This system "go fund me" allows me to withdrawal cash as it comes in to cover the expenses while keeping the fundraiser open -- exactly what we need.
Everyone knows the mental health system and special education funding/support is broken -- this is a kid caught in that void. We have a solution for one kid. Lets help him.
So for the cost of a freaking cup of coffee you may actually save a kids life -- one you may know and one that deserves it.
- Heather Shaw
- Karen Ward
- Morgan Gray