Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Help For The Outliers?

Last year, I wrote a blog post about a proposed Family Care Group Home at 1503 Juniper Street in Longmont.

In November, after much deliberation, we at Imagine! made the difficult and painful decision not to move forward with this home.

Read a Longmont Times-Call newspaper article about our decision.

 I am confident that we explored all of the variables associated with the operation of this home, and I am resolved with our decision. That being said, this situation does raise awareness of issues that we tend to gloss over when communicating with the public, our communities, the state’s bureaucracy, and ourselves.

People who require the support of others are often categorized in order to manage eligibility for public support. These categories have very specific definitions, and the public support comes with very specific rules. We know of people who have needs that cannot be met within these narrowly defined definitions and rules - outliers that do not fit the design of publicly funded programs.

We know them, and yet we cannot help them.

If people who are found eligible for developmental disabilities services only found it difficult to learn, our work would be straight forward. That is not always the case, as we have demonstrated with the boys who were scheduled to move into the home on Juniper Street.

Having a developmental disability does not make one immune from medical conditions or mental health conditions, some of which the general population may find very offensive. Having a developmental disability does not mean you are immune from statutory public offenses and intervention by law enforcement and the judicial system. When it is found that a local public offender appears to have a developmental disability, the answer to the question, “Who do you call?” is Imagine!. We do our best to answer those calls when we receive them, despite limited resources, restrictive rules, and even on occasion (as in the case of the Juniper Street home), the outright opposition to our efforts to serve some of our most vulnerable citizens with complex needs.

The life stories of the people we serve at Imagine! are amazing on both ends of the spectrum; some are very inspiring, while others make a person wonder, “how is this story possible in the world we know today?”

I am taking this opportunity to point out that our work at Imagine! can be very complex, and that we do not always have the answers. However, I can assure you that our desire to seek out solutions is only strengthened when we have to take action as we did with this home in Longmont.

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