Gotta move, got a special kid
February 5, 2006 9:13 PM   Subscribe

We need to move out of the Los Angeles area within the year to find someplace cheaper to live. The show-stopper is our daughter, almost 25, who is retarded. She lives in a splendid group home and attends a splendid day program that is lovingly but inexorably moving her toward independent living, including a real job. This is essential (no sibs) for her life after we're gone. So we need to qualitatively assess services for the retarded in other states. How do we do this? California may well be the high-water mark for the support the retarded get in this country. If there's someplace better we need to know where and why. There are no data, so far, to help with this.
posted by banjomensch to Education (12 answers total)
What happened to this question? I guess it's slightly different - here, you're focusing specifically on the available options for your daughter. Did you look into the special needs services in Asheville and the other places that were suggested?
posted by fionab at 9:19 PM on February 5, 2006

Response by poster: Good question: The time frame has changed: I was laid off in November, so our plans have advanced. But you're correct -- the focus also has changed from finding retirement nirvana to Andie's services. In short, we move to where Andie has a future, it's that simple. We've checked Asheville and Washington state -- services are apparently underfunded and/or nonexistent in both locations.....desperation is growing.
posted by banjomensch at 9:52 PM on February 5, 2006

I used to work with people who have disabilities in Colorado and heard that the state was fairly ahead of the game on deinstitutionalization back in the 1960's. All of their services for people with developmental disabilities (mental retardation, as you said) are geared towards community involvement. The statewide system is called Alliance. You can see eligibility info on the website and learn about their services. Good luck. Also, I am now in Arizona and have heard that their services for adults are pretty weak.
posted by coolsara at 11:02 PM on February 5, 2006

Best answer: I'm curious why your daughter needs to move with you? Is it that her care would no longer be covered if you're no longer a resident of California, or is it that you want her to be near you?

If it's the second, I would urge you to consider letting her stay where she is. She's got a good situation going, and a change is going to be confusing for her. Is there anywhere you could live that's cheaper and just a few hours drive away from where she is now?

You mention that you want to make sure she'll be ok when you're no longer around. Maybe part of that could come from giving her more independence from you now, including not moving just because you are?

I used to work with developmentally disabled young adults in Atlanta, and the group homes I worked in were really good, but there was a long waiting list to get into them, and they were privately run rather than state.
posted by hazyjane at 12:50 AM on February 6, 2006

Best answer: If North Carolina is still on your list, I would suggest you contact Holy Angels in Belmont (about two hours east of Asheville, in the Charlotte region). I don't have personal experience with their services, but they are very highly regarded around here.
posted by SashaPT at 3:36 AM on February 6, 2006

I've heard that the Puget Sound area has a good reputation for the service syou're looking for. Seattle itself can be spendy, but living in the surrounding communities can be very nice and affordable. My experiences in the Renton/Tukwila/Kent districts were very pleasant and affordable. Just my 2 cents.
posted by Smarson at 6:13 AM on February 6, 2006

Best answer: What about Oregon? My family has a long history of working in special education and raising a special needs family member. If you need an in-depth assessment of services available in the Willamette Valley, please send me an e-mail (in my profile) and I'll connect you with an expert.
posted by cior at 7:36 AM on February 6, 2006

Best answer: Is the cost of living in all of southern California so high that you couldn't just move a few hours away from LA, and let your daughter stay where she's at?

You're talking about building her independence, but trying to drag her with you wherever you go. Sorry, it doesn't work like that. If she's got a good placement and thriving now, you should let her stay there. It sounds to me like you want to take her with you for your benefit, not hers.

I realize that you don't want to be far away from her, but a few hours of driving won't hurt as much as you think.

(My brother is mentally handicapped, and he has just recently found a spot in an excellent group home. Email me if you'd like.)
posted by MrZero at 7:44 AM on February 6, 2006

I used to work as an employment specialist for individuals with developmental disabilities in New Jersey, and I think there are some very solid supports in place there. The Division of Developmental Disabilities is a good place to start. Also try Spectrum For Living. This is where I worked, but I understand it has gone through many changes since I was there. The website has a good links page for further research, though.
posted by Uccellina at 9:56 AM on February 6, 2006

Here's a "State of the States in Developmental Disabilities". You can order a copy. It looks like they've got a review of spending and a big list of links to peruse.
posted by fionab at 10:05 AM on February 6, 2006

IMO, my uncle would be more traumatized by a move out of his group home, than he was by the death of his mother. The group home is a daily experience and the foundation of stability in his life; his mom was a once-a-week experience and wasn't a satisfying experience in that Alzheimers sucks.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:33 AM on February 6, 2006

Response by poster: Good points from all-- you guys are the best. Incredible knowledge arrayed here. We're looking at SoCal areas about 3 hours' drive away from Andie -- you have to get that far out to get away from the L.A. bedroom communities and their sky-high housing costs. In fact, whereever we move, we'd want to be within that distance -- not too close -- she needs to get used to living without us. Right now she's about 20 minutes away, and that's good for openers (this is her first group home), but too close for independence.

Didn't know about OR and NC and NJ places -- thanks for that. Puget Sound is a dry hole, according to some people who work with MR population there -- if you're already a resident you get services through a "voucher." If you're coming in, tough luck. This is frequently the case with MR populations who have to go to court to get their needed services.

Anyway, thanks much -- we'll continue our due diligence.

posted by banjomensch at 12:23 PM on February 6, 2006

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