Lack of fund­ing leaves ter­ri­ble choice

The Compass - - OPINION - Evan Ca­reen is the edi­tor for the Advertiser news­pa­per in Grand Fall­sWind­sor and writes from Grand Falls-Wind­sor. He can be reached at evan.ca­reen@ad­ver­tis­ernl.ca

There have been a num­ber of sto­ries in the me­dia as of late re­gard­ing the sup­port, or lack thereof, for par­ents of autis­tic adults. For that mat­ter, the lack of sup­port for any adult with chal­leng­ing needs.

It’s a sad state of af­fairs in this coun­try where peo­ple have to quit their job just to take care of their child be­cause of lack of fund­ing once they turn 19. When a child has spe­cial needs there’s pro­grams and work­ers and fund­ing avail­able, but once they turn 19 they’re ap­par­ently now able to sur­vive with­out as­sis­tance? Seems pretty lu­di­crous.

It’s not just peo­ple in low-in­come brack­ets who strug­gle with this ei­ther. The costs of car­ing for an adult with spe­cial needs can be as­tro­nom­i­cal. And it’s not just the fi­nan­cial bur­den, there’s also an is­sue of time. Not ev­ery­one is ca­pa­ble of tak­ing care of them­selves or should be left alone in a home unat­tended. So what’s the choice then? Go to work or take care of your child. Most of us know what wins there.

There are al­ter­na­tives of course. A par­ent could ship their son or daugh­ter off to live in a foster home. No par­ent should be forced to make that choice, to ei­ther work or send their child off to live with strangers. And what of the child? Their par­ents have been the big­gest con­stants in their lives and now they’re sup­posed to go live with strangers who don’t know them and would, most likely, pro­vide less loving at­ten­tion than those who sired them.

One of the most well known cases in re­cent months was of the Telford fam­ily of Ot­tawa. Amanda Telford, mother of a 19-year-old autis­tic man, Phillip, left him on the doorsteps of a provin­cial de­vel­op­men­tal ser­vice of­fice last week. Telford told the me­dia it was the “most heart-wrench­ing, gut-wrench­ing feel­ing in the world to have to do this” but she felt she had no choice. He wan­dered away and fre­quently put him­self in dan­ger and he had “aged out” of the sys­tem.

The re­al­ity is the so­cial ser­vices sys­tem in this coun­try is over­taxed and un­der­funded. Gov­ern­ments, both fed­eral and provin­cial, say there sim­ply isn’t any more money to be had. Sure, not enough to take care of our most vul­ner­a­ble but cer­tainly enough to make sure the Repub­lic of Doyle gets funded here in the prov­ince. And fed­er­ally, well they’re too con­cerned with cut­ting costs in search and res­cue, among other things, while shrug­ging their shoul­ders when asked by the AG where $3.1 bil­lion in anti-ter­ror fund­ing went.

So the par­ents alone face this bur­den. But it’s not just the fault of the govern­ment. It’s the fault of all of us. All of us who com­plain when our taxes are raised, all of us who say the govern­ment spends too much but keep vot­ing for the same peo­ple who did noth­ing be­fore. The Telfords shouldn’t drop their son off on the doorstep of the govern­ment, that’s not where all the blame lies. It lies with each one of us. The Com­pass en­cour­ages let­ters of lo­cal in­ter­est, and wel­come read­ers to ex­press opin­ions in 400 words or less. All let­ters are sub­ject to edit­ing for gram­mar, read­abil­ity, length and taste. Let­ters must in­clude the first and last name of the writer, or at lease two ini­tials, your last name and home­town. Please in­clude a phone num­ber where you may be reached to ver­ify au­then­tic­ity be­fore ublication. Anony­mous let­ters will not be con­sid­ered for pub­li­ca­tion. Let­ters should be ad­dressed to the edi­tor. Opin­ions ex­pressed in let­ters to the edi­tor are those of the au­thors. The Com­pass and Transcon­ti­nen­tal At­lantic Me­dia Group do not nec­es­sar­ily en­dorse the views ex­pressed therein.

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