On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Thursday, February 17, 2011

State says she's too young for institution

CBAY meeting for Sissy yesterday. CBAY is Community Based Alternatives for Youth, a federal stimulus act grant-funded program started in our state in 2009 to provide skilled and unskilled wrap around services for youths and adolescents that come out of RTC. Clients meeting the criteria for CBAY have a year in the program with monthly meetings. Sissy's anniversary date of discharge from RTC is March 6, 2010. Her anniversary date for CBAY is April 1, 2010. She is processing out of the program even though she has made NO changes in her issues, in fact, she's WORSE. She'll qualify for the step-down program called high fidelity wrap around but that means we no longer have respite dollars, or any dollars for that matter. All we'll have is the same lovely team (really, I love them!) trying to help us nail down resources available to us in our local community that would help support Sissy.

Jokes on us. Our state budget for mental health support is pitiful. What's more, our state is divided into five regions. The population and needs of those regions determines how many dollars that region siphons from the state's annual mental health budget. We live in region two, the second largest region in the state but the fourth lowest in allocation of state funding for mental health. Even worse, three years ago the state restructured, making region two even larger and at the same time bumping many of our resources to regions one and three, the greater metropolitan areas. All of that means, we have NO mental health resources available to us in our region. We dont' even have an RTC. The closest RTCs are a three hour drive from here regardless of which metropolitan area you head toward. That means, CBAY's high fidelity wrap program is going to net us a big fat goose egg. There are NO OTHER RESOURCES or STONES TO TURN OVER. That's it. We're done. Cablooie. Kerplunk. Caput.

And all of this with a child that is getting worse, not better. A child whose behaviors are what I now consider, "ungovernable". Ah, yes. two can play that game. I did some digging before the meeting. I learned that the term ungovernable is actually a legal term that buys us some leverage in getting placement for Sissy. I'm not making a false claim, she's ungovernable, but I'm also not going to roll over and die.

So what's next? A lot, actually.

Step One: A month ago I addressed the woeful support and services available in our area to one of our CBAY team members. I said, "hey, you know what? Officially, my education and internship was geared directly toward being a community health professional, not an educator. I've got this. Swing me some help and I'll spearhead a support group in Region 2, specifically so I can compile resources for CBAY CMOs to call ME instead of doing the rabbit trail chasing from across the state that you end up doing." She was on it like white on rice. I will be contacted by the spearhead of our state's parent support group next week to begin my training. And there's grant money for parents that are willing to do this as in, I could officially have a paying job when all is said and done. Holy freakin' crap!

Step Two: Sissy's scores are high enough for RTC placement but the state is kicking kids out. Apparently, the state started a 2011 initiative to keep kids younger than 13 out of RTCs. According to the state, institutions are not where children should be raised, homes are. Uh... ok. Yeah. How's THAT going to work?!?! I mean really?!? Because I have two younger children terrified of Sissy, The Dad and I are suffering physical, financial, mental and emotional strain trying to parent her and CBAY and Sissy's therapy team have said she's not receiving treatment, we've turned over every stone trying to help her, she doesn't want the help. Won't take the help. Doesn't care. Is getting worse, is ungovernable. Period.

Step Three: She'll eventually get a placement in a few weeks, to the first available bed in the state. UGH. Because I've requested that she go to one of two more institutional-type settings and not back to the summer-camp type place she was at before. But apparently that particular RTC is good at following the state's new initiative and by default, has the greatest turn around and bed availability. UGH UGH UGH UGH UGH UGH UGH. Sissy's therapists and CBAY team agree, the places I've requested are the best for her. But not likely to happen.

So she'll go back to summer-camp RTC, get bounced out in three to four weeks, will return to her behaviors inside of 10 minutes walking through the front door and ....

Step Four: she'll reauthorize for another full year of CBAY and IFI.

*huge collective sigh*

It buys us some time, it keeps us bankrolled, it gives us a few weeks of peace and time to restructure her supports. In the meantime, I'll be actively engaging in a new support position oh, and here's a plus I just thought of, she won't be there long enough to cut off her SSI. (30 days and you have to report that the child is not living at home).

Good God almighty in heaven. Can my life get any more complicated than this?

Step Five: planning in the background. While all of this unfolds over the next 6-8 weeks, Sissy's team and I will be looking into the following four avenues:
#1 - apparently there's an abandonment loophole that keeps our noses clean because there is enough paperwork to demonstrate that Sissy has not been willing to comply and that as parents we've provided every available resource to her. We'll see. I'm not keen on it because it's risky. I've said it a million times, I'm not getting in trouble with the law for this kid. Period. According to the team, if I keep these agencies on my "backdoor", then it's the AGENCIES recommending we file not us directly. An outright call from us to DFACS saying we can't raise her is the one that gets us all in hot water. not going there. period. that's not even an option.

#2 - placement. tricky. Our state only has group homes for kids 13-18. but our CBAY team is going to look into it. Placement means we don't waive our parental rights. score. It also means if she should straighten up, we could reunite. one of the snaffus is that Sissy has no legal issues: no running away, no stealing, no truancy, no drugs, no violent behaviors. Yes. that's GOOD. however, in our state, placements are easier to nail down if your child also has all of these legal issues in addition to mental health concerns. Sick. i know. I don't make these things up, I just learn what the game rules are.

#3 - ungovernable. A legal loophole. it's possible that we have enough documentation to prove that Sissy is an ungovernable child and we can pursue it legally to jump over some of this insane bureaucratic red tape trying to get a placement.

And what about the pdoc, you ask? Doesn't he have any say? Nope. With the 2011 initiative, the state usurped the pdoc's credentials - they now have no jurisdiction or credentials to place a child beyond a direct referral for a crisis stabilization based on a patient's history. Oh, and that's the other thing. We only have one crisis stabilization unit in region 2 and it only has 28 beds, 14 female, 14 male and that's ages 4-18. last week I could have driven across the state to get Sissy in the first available crisis stabilization unit bed. and then stay for three nights in a hotel because she would have gotten bounced out in 72 hours. I opted not to. Hello? Has anyone missed it? I have TWO other children, one of which is ALSO IMPAIRED.

I can't seem to say that last part loud enough to make people pay attention. And yes, I told everyone about AB's plan. no one flinched. They've seen it, heard it and done it all. My two other children are of no consequence other than mentioning their struggles ups Sissy's CAFAS score a smidgen and the therapist can get on the phone with APS and say, "and oh yeah, the client is threatening the safety and well being of her siblings, one of which is impaired."

Bottom line, sissy's 11. too damn young by the state's standards to be this damn hard to raise in a home environment. So F! us.

That's what I deal with. Every day. that's the information that runs around in the back of my head while Sissy screams to my face getting increasingly combative, defiant and belligerent by the minute.

fun times.


Lisa said...

Augh - I am so sorry, BTDT as they say. You've actually gotten much farther than we have. We cannot even get our pdoc to admit (out loud) that Daniel is threatening the safety of our family. He keeps trying to find excuses for his behaviors (ie: Did you want something your brother had and he wouldn't share? Is that why you hit him in the head with a board? It's hard when people won't share, isn't it? It makes you frustrated. - puke).

My son has come up with a "plan" for his life. He told us yesterday that he wants a ride to the homeless shelter on his 18th b-day. Once there, he will get a job, get an apartment and get on with his life. Okey dokey - no education, no job experience, no references, an unwillingness to WORK and an unwillingness to submit to anyones authority - yep - good luck with that bud. The dr. smiled when he heard it, but then again, the dr doesn't LIVE with him and won't be his dr. when he turns 18, he'll be transferred to an adult psych so no problem for him.

No one in the mental health field cares about the families of these special needs kids. It sounds so harsh, but it's true. How can you hear reports over and over of how a mentally ill child is affecting her sibs and see the parents fall apart healthwise, financially, etc. and NOT help? I understand they're probably doing all they are authorized to do - but this is just WRONG. I sat here crying as I read all of your post - it just hits too close to home, we're living it too, every.stinkin'.day. How are we ever going to find true joy when this is all over? How can we recover ourselves? Sending hugs your way hon - this is just so....frustrating.

Cyndi said...

Since when does age have anything to do with it? We fight the age thing all the time. My kid needed surgery for reasons that are just fine for older females, but her age sent us to court of all places to get approval, as in a judge (male) is going to understand this better then the three physicians and two parents who are there every day. Sometimes age should just be thrown out the window. What is going on with the individual is actually what should matter.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I feel your pain. Honestly. I remember being there with my son. I felt like we were living under siege. I had to have my baby sleep with us all of the time and I was still afraid to sleep for fear of what he might do. I hate how they tie your hands when they are young. Finally, when he tried to burn down our house and molested my other son, his bio Grandma took him to live with her. It wasn't the best situation but it was the only thing we had left without risking losing our other 3.

I didn't mean to make this about me, but I wanted you to know you are not alone. I will pray my heart out for your and your family.

kisekileia said...

What's the fourth avenue?

Integrity Singer said...

@ kisekileia - you're awesome! yes, there is a forth one. LIPT, an interagency network that helps explore all possible options for challenged children and their families.

J. said...

that is all crazy, we ahve similar problems here int he great white north getting kids the services they need. I wish that the world would realsie that mental health issues are helath issues and we need solutions and funding to help fix them. Good luck, 14 days till a break!

Sincerely Mama said...

I'm not commenting much, but still reading and still praying for you and your family. I'm here.