Family in Crisis, disabled adults have funding cut - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Family in Crisis, disabled adults have funding cut

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – While the economy has hurt a lot of people, a Mitchell County family is really struggling. Two of three grown children who have both muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy have been cut off from the service center they attended each day.

Now, their mother, in her 60's, must care for them 24/7 with little help at all.

It's one of Greg McClendon's favorite places to be. "I like to going there." "Why?" "'Cause it's fun," he said. 

He goes to the Mitchell Baker service center five days a week. That's why it's so hard for his brother Reggie and his sister Latitia to understand why they are no longer allowed.

Latitia said, "They kicked me out."

Kicked her out of the only outing she had to look forward to during the week. Reggie's a little shy, but he told me why he liked the service center so much. "What do you do there?" "Eat," he said.

But not lately. Reggie and Latitia were told heir funding for the year had ended. Greg still gets to go.  Mom Susie McClendon said, "It's been rough. Because see what happens is Titia, she used to go to the center. She loves it and every morning when she sees the bus take Greg away, she don't understand."

Neither does she. Four of her nine children were born with disabilities. She has carried and lifted and moved them all she could, but recently had back surgery.

She said, "I'm just not able to do it like I used to." And she doesn't understand why the funding has suddenly been cut off. "Broken hearted, helpless. Like I failed in someway. I told them I've had to fight for everything they got. Nothing came easy for them since they came in this world."

And the McClendons aren't the only family whose funding has been slashed.

Sandy Edge said, "The cuts are impacting families like this all over the state and families needs don't go away because we're in an economic crisis. We can't invent a formula, one size fits all."

Edge is the Asst. Executive Director of the Albany ARC, which provides in home services for the McClendons. She says the state is using impersonal, unrealistic formulas to determine who needs help.

Edge said, "A lot of families are in crisis and we need to cut through the bureaucracy and meet with families and find out what the needs are and plug in the services."

In order to serve the people who truly need it, like the McClendons.

Because of privacy laws, the state department of developmental disabilities couldn't tell us why some of the funding for the McClendon's had been cut. Though they tell us a formula is used to determine the services someone qualifies for.

Latitia McClendon has been told she can go back to the Mitchell Baker Service Center later this month. Reggie won't be able to return until after the new year when his funding starts back up.

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