How much IHSS fraud is there?

Captiol Weekly  9/30/10 — Nearly a year after the Schwarzenegger administration awarded $26.5 million to county district attorneys to combat fraud in the state In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) system, DAs are beginning to report some results.  However, it remains unclear whether the program will result in the $130 million in savings promised by the governor, numbers that would indicate nearly $5 in return for every dollar spent.

Meanwhile, a claim of 25 percent fraud in the system – widely repeated by the Administration, DAs and Republican politicians – appears to be based on data out of San Diego that is more than a decade old and concerns welfare applications, not IHSS.

IHSS is a huge system. It employs 380,000 low-wage workers to care for about 444,000 mostly low-income elderly and disabled patients to be cared for in their homes – numbers so huge they mean that one out of every 50 Californians is either a patient or provider. In many cases, the provider is a family member or friend to the recipient. About half of its $5.4 billion annual budget comes from the federal government, with the state providing a third and counties the rest.

DAs and other authorities have uncovered scores of serious individual cases of fraud in the system. It also appears clear that case loads and spending in the IHSS have grown quickly in recent years, at a far higher rate than most other programs.

But so far neither the administration or the Department of Social Services (DSS) have any aggregate numbers on the fraud they have uncovered.“We are working with stakeholders and counties to set up a process where counties would report to us on their fraud findings,” said spokeswoman DSS Lizelda Lopez. She said they did not yet have a date when this information might be available.

The governor and several DAs have also repeatedly referenced the idea that the IHSS system may be overpaying providers by up to 25 percent, due to a combination of lack of standardization among counties, poor oversight, fraud and other problems.

The number appears to first show up in connection to IHSS in a 2004 Department of Finance letter concerning hiring 18 new DSS staffers to investigate fraud in the IHSS system. That letter stated: “The governor’s Budget for FY 2004-05 acknowledged that up to 25 percent of the hours may be over-assessed and indicated that a proposal would be forthcoming to address the issue.” The letter goes on to cite a “more conservative” estimate of 10 percent overpayment, but doesn’t cite specific evidence for either number.

The 25 percent fraud number has appeared repeatedly. It came up three times at a July, 2009, press conference Schwarzenegger held with DAs on IHSS fraud. First, Sacramento DA Jan Scully said “a lot of us agree” that 25 percent was the right number. Then Ventura County DA Gregory Totten noted “current estimates range anywhere from on the low side, maybe 5 to 10 percent to 25 percent.” Finally, Schwarzenegger claimed “some people say there is 25 percent fraud.” None of them cited a source for the claim.

But both Totten and staffers for Scully said that number referred to a pair of projects out of Orange and San Diego Counties – mainly Project 100 Percent out of San Diego. Adopted in 1997, it called on welfare applicants to be visited by an investigator from the DA’s office within 10 days of filling out their paperwork. The goal was to prevent illegal immigrants with too much income and others who weren’t eligible from receiving benefits. It found that a quarter of applicants were not eligible to receive any welfare funds.

Yet no references to the Project 100 source of this number appear to have come up in statements by the administration and others who have used it. The number was referenced in editorials, such as a June 2009 piece on the conservative blog The Flash Report by Sen. George Runner, R-Antelope Valley. It showed up again in a July 2009 press release from the administration: “fraud exists in IHSS – estimated by some to be as much as 25 percent of all dollars expended. Even the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes agreed that there are significant problems validating the delivery of these services.”

However, the Senate Oversight Report, which came out the previous month, did not cite the 25 percent figure. The report did find egregious individual examples of fraud in the system, such as a pair of men in Los Angeles who used fake Social Security numbers and other scams to cheat the system out of $390,000. It also cited the Department of Health Care Services as stating: “Currently, there is no accurate means of measuring or monitoring IHSS fraud within the state.”

“I have not seen from this administration an aggregate number of actual fraud,” said Karen Keslar, executive director of the California Association of Public Authorities. She also said the initial reference to 25 percent fraud in the 2004 Dept. of Finance letter “started a bad game of telephone, like they play in kindergarten.”
According to Rachel Arrezola, chief deputy press secretary to the governor, the 25 percent number came out of a series of grand jury reports on IHSS fraud from several different counties.

But the number only appears once in a quartet of grand jury reports provided by DSS. That reference comes in a March 2009 Sacramento Grand Jury report which states: “According to a published news report an analysis by the governor’s office estimates the statewide fraud rate for IHSS at 25 percent.”

That report went on to state that “Fraud in the IHSS program is reported to be rampant and out-of-control.” But the actual numbers in the grand jury report appear to be much smaller. Out of 21,290 recipients and 19,670 providers, it found that 397 cases of alleged fraud were referred to the Sacramento DA in 2006-07 fiscal year, and 25 were prosecuted – representing a fraction of one percent of the system. The report also showed that costs in the system had been rising rapidly in recent years, but administrative costs were going up much faster than payments to providers.

But this isn’t an accurate way of looking at the percentage of fraud in the system, said Sacramento deputy DA Laura West.

“There are countless ways to commit IHSS fraud, most of which are very hard to detect,” West said. “We’re not getting a full picture.”

Because IHSS has essentially been operating on an “honor system,” she said, it can be useful to try to estimate fraud potential based on the number of people who are likely to attempt it.

The Sacramento DAs office spent $2.55 million from the state and $450,000 of their own funds combating fraud through the end of the last fiscal year at the end of June. West claimed that they are approaching the 5-to-1 return the governor hoped for on their $3 million investment. Rather than growing the normal 8 percent in the last year, she said, the program shrank by 2 percent, something she attributed to a deterrent effect, saving the county $5.1 million.  

Fraud prosecutions have more than doubled, to 60, and actual fraud was discovered totaling over $500,000. There have been over 1,300 cases of potential fraud referred to the office. They discovered about $2 million in overpayments, she said, some of it unintentional.

While the Sacramento returns appear to show a payoff of over 2-to-1, Ventura DA Totten said his office could reach 5-to-1 of better when they report results in a few weeks. His county, with a fraction of the IHSS population of Sacramento, received only $87,000. But this allowed him to move an investigator onto the effort part time. They have been able to speed up death reviews – making sure providers aren’t paid when program recipients have passed away – and reviewing questionable time cards, such as those that report over 300 hours a month.

But Steve Mehlman, communications director of the UDW Homecare Providers Union, said the claims made by the administration and DAs should be viewed with skepticism. The governor has repeatedly submitted budgets that sought to cut or even eliminate IHSS. The Sacramento DAs office, meanwhile, has still only managed to document fraud in a fraction of 1 percent of cases – 19 felony cases in Sacramento, and only 210 so far statewide.

Another goal of the administration, Mehlman said, has been to use the specter of criminals caring for the disabled as an excuse to cut the program. IHSS currently bars hiring providers who have committed elder or child abuse, or who have defrauded a government agency. But in December, the administration added a list of hundreds of crimes that would result in a lifetime ban, a more stringent list than exists for any other profession in the state, he said, let alone one that pays as little as being an IHSS provider.

“I’ve never seen any cost/benefit analysis [of the IHSS fraud program]” Mehlman said. “We’ve been asking the Legislature to do that. I’m sure as long as the Schwarzenegger administration is in charge, it won’t happen.”

By Malcolm Maclachlan  Captiol Weekly

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  1. I am the mother of a 31 year old blind and totally disabled man. when I started with IHSS,the workers told me that being that I was the mother, I could use my hours anyway I wanted to,and I did. I was first given 283 hrs per month with protective supervision,but in 2008 a women with the same last name as my son,came to my home and said “this is a beautiful home …who all lives here?” I told her just my son and I. she told me that “I didn’t need this big house(5 bedrooms) and I needed to move out of it!” then after realizing that she had the same last name as my son, I ask her if she was my sons fathers new wife,she just laughed and never answered the question, to which I considered her to be a conflict of interest,and I thought,”that’s the reason she told me to move out of this house.” then she went in my sons room,and when people come in his surroundings that he doesn’t know,he shuts down with a form of fear. he does this because he was abused by a babysitter,and that is how he became disabled/blind,so in his little mind he panics as if he thinks everyone he don’t know, came to abuse him. He even responded that way with a teacher (Vanessa ford) from the school he attended,even though he knew her from school and had a wonderful relationship with her at school. when she came to my home as a part time babysitter,he shut totally down. she told me that he acts as if he don’t know her and will sit still and stay quiet and not move until I come back home. she says he panics as if he is scared to death and will not even talk until I come in the door. I told her I think he is afraid of what he thinks might happen to him. even though this abuse happened to him when he was a baby, he still panics when he’s around people he don’t know. after seeing my son in this frozen state, the social worker went back and cut me 100 hours saying “I didn’t need protective supervision,for which I was given by the previous workers who saw his movements and requested that I receive the hours for protective supervision. this new social worker with the same last name as my son, stated that the doctors never sent a letter to IHHS ,which is not true…so I went to court for a hearing and saw that worker ,rush in the room and fill the judge with the information she wanted her to believe ,so when I came in the room,the judge gave me a cold feeling and when I told my version,the judge said she didn’t believe me. well who would know my son better than me? I told the judge that if my son did not need this protective supervision than why would the workers request that I have it for the last 10 years? the new worker took all the papers out of my sons file and said “there were no letters from the doctors in the file, so the judge cut me off the protective supervision program and the worker came out with a smirk on her face, while we were in court,she(the worker) started crying in the courtroom area, as if to make her version more believable…I couldn’t believe this was going on, I still thought she was my sons fathers new wife trying to destroy us for whatever reason she chose, so I ask her again and she laughed and never responded. the judge ask me to bring in a letter from my sons doctor and the social worker told the judge to let her do it,but she didn’t ever ask the Dr for a letter,she sent a 5 question letter to my sons school,and ask them if he had any medical emergency’s ,for which they said “no” and she asked 4 other questions , but none of them were “if he receives protective supervision from them”, which he does, because he jumps up and down in the chair and almost turns the chair upside down ,so we put protective gear in the back of it so it wont turn over,but she never asked the important questions. while he is in the shower at home he jumps and beats his head on the shower wall,so I have to stay with him for that hour so he don’t brake the glass doors and get cut, because they are very thin pieces of clear glass and I also need to keep him from beating his head on the wall. I also have to make sure he don’t climb up the stairs of our home because there has been occasions where he has climbed the stairs and fell back down from either being unbalanced or having a seizure. he loves to go upstairs looking for his brother, who is now married and not living with us, but he thinks my younger son and his friends are still upstairs ,where they use to welcome him to play nintendo. so every now and then I hear a big clump…he fell down the 18 step stair casing. so when I cook ,I have to bring him in with me to make sure he don’t go up the stairs with out my help. one day I went on vacation and my younger son and I went to get food downstairs at the restaurant and when I came back from getting the food ,my disabled son was outside the room door, some one had called a sheriff and said as soon as we left that room ,my son crawled to the door and opened it and came in the hallway. when I returned the sheriff was asking him his name and he told the sheriff my younger sons name,which he says often,at that time, he could not say his own name. I learned that day that I not only needed to teach him his full name (which I did)but that I can not leave him ever again, even though he was 16 at that time and I figured he would be safe in the hotel room until we got our food from downstairs,but he was not safe ,he could open the doors and leave. I remember a time when I was in the shower at home and when I came downstairs he was sitting outside the front door of our home,so now I put the chain lock on the top so he cant reach it. I told all this to the judge at my hearing ,but she said she didn’t believe me,based on what that social worker told her. I felt as if the worker was trying to personally attack me for some reason,which I think was the fact that she was my sons fathers wife! we have gone through some rough times. back in 1996 I had a women who worked for IHSS, come in to assist me,when I came home one day from work she was smoking crack in my upstairs bathroom,and I fired her,and started working for my son. I was not able to go anywhere and was totally stuck to my home. the IHSS social worker for my son, told me that when I start to work that I could sub my work out to family, so I’m not totally stuck to my home, but I’d have to be responsible for the taxes,which I did. then she also said that I could work my hours anyway I wanted to and arrange them the way I wanted because I was the mother and I actually worked 19- 24 hours a day,if he don’t go to school that day. I cant go out or go get groceries until 3 am, thanks to food for less and now wal mart,with their 24 hr stores,they make it easy for me to do my groceries and clothing shopping, when he is asleep. I would go to those stores at 3 am because I knew he would not wake up that early,as appose to me going during the day when he would probably awake while I’m gone. I was worn out by 2001 so I hired a lady from church to help me with him. one day I went out of town that night and came back in the morning and found my son with his scrotum the size of a coconut…she had raped him. I took him to the hospital and that’s when I found out what she had done and the doctor said he need to cut his scrotum off. My mom who is a nurse,rushed to the hospital to tell the doctor that that he didn’t need to cut on his scrotum,she told him that he could deaden it instead ,so he did. in my heart I knew I had put my son through enough pain in life by hiring all these people from all walks of like,who I thought I could trust,but I realized that he did not need to be around any one else but me and my family. last month,for the first time in my life since giving birth to him and his brother, I had to be in the hospital on 3 occasions,for 3-4 days each,so I subbed my work out to my sister ,my cousin and my son. and on the last occasion,I had a stroke and could not talk, and my aunt who is very ill and her husband just happened to come by my house and called an ambulance for me. after the ambulance came, my uncle told me that they could not keep my son because my aunt had to go to dialysis,so they called
    a cousin, who was also ill and then they called a social workers number I had on the refrigerator,she got my son into a care home for 4 days. when I came back I was on leave from my job for which I had not told them to put me on leave,but in between my illness,I called the worker and told her that my Dr said I would have to have a hysterectomy and I would need to be in the hospital for 2 days and I would need to be resting for 8 weeks after that, so I wanted to know if IHSS paid for 24 hr care. I ask that question so I could sub my work out to relatives so I wouldn’t have to use a care home ,because when my son went to a care home for one day, my sister went to check on him after work the next day and said he was not getting good care,so being that it was Friday,and she was off until Monday,she stated she would take him to my home and watch him there for me ,for which I paid her,I considered her my sub, on another occasion during that time,my younger son was on leave from the marines and came to visit us. on the day he was expected to go back to Hawaii, I had an extreme pain,I had pancreatitis, so my son called his superior and made arrangements through red cross and his superior, to stay until I got out of the hospital,which was 4 days later. they gave him one week off so he kept my disabled son Anthony,for which I paid him for and thanked him dearly for staying so that my son didn’t have to go beck to that care home. on my last trip when I had a stroke ,we had no other choice but to send him to the care home because my uncle and aunt could not take care of him. when I came back they (IHSS)had cut me off and said I had committed fraud for allowing my family to take care of my son, I thought I could sub my work out! this is what I was told to do by the other workers in the past. and besides my son does not want to be around any one else but family…he will shut down. they said every one who sits for me must go to them and fill out the forms and pay 56.00 for a finger print. first of all,every one in my family works so I never ever go anywhere, and never use a sitter, when I do it is my cousin who is off on weekends only, so I cant go anywhere during the week, unless my son is at school for 4- 5 hours on occasion because he does not like going to school,so he stays home often. being that I weigh 111 lbs and he weighs 160 I have a hard time picking him up now so I just don’t go anywhere until he’s asleep at 3 am,and I can only go to get groceries at that hour,so my life is tied to this kid 24/7. when IHSS told me that I committed a fraud by letting my family watch my son, I felt betrayed. it was there ideal that I sub my work out,then a supervisor told me that they never allowed subbing,which is not true. 3 social workers told me that I could do that,but the supervisor says “they IHHS never allowed that.” this is not true! they told me on 3 occasions that I would be able to sub it to anyone I wanted and being that my son had all these tragedy’s happen to him,I choose to let only family keep him. but family wants to know,”why they have to pay 59.00 for finger print to work for possible 2 hours,being that I would have to find different family members to work on their day off,for possibly 2 hours. they said that’s like paying IHHS twice the amount that they would make in the 2 hours ,so they said they are not doing that!so now I am stuck with nobody again. I know that I would still pay from my money,because I want to pay them even on times they don’t want pay ,but I want to feel free just incase I really want to go some where or need to,so that they don’t feel I am using them. like I said ,I never get to go any where! so I am always lonely and bored . I don’t want strangers taking care of my son. being that I had no one this last time,and he stayed at a care home,I picked him up when I got out of the hospital,only to find him sitting quietly afraid in a chair,with somebody else’s clothes on,that were too big for him,and his teeth butter yellow and he was very musty and pissy wet,and they had not combed his hair since the last time I did and he kept saying “I’m sorry Michelle” as if he thought he had done something wrong,but in actuality the care home had done wrong by not taking decent care of him. he kept telling me that he was sorry all the way home as if he thought I wanted him in that care home. when I came in the care home and my son started talking to me, the care home operator was shocked when my son started talking and said to me ‘WOW he can talk!” I said yes he just shuts down when he is somewhere else he don’t know. I need a lawyer to help me fight this program, so that we who are parents and work 24/7 can do what wee want with our kids without having IHHS control our homes. they should only be able to control the homes of clients who are being taken care of by outsiders who work specifically for IHHS…not the parents. I feel as if life has already controlled are lives enough with its tragedy’s without me feeling the pressures of IHHS…PLEASE HELP ME! IF YOU KNOW OF A LAWYER THAT CAN HELP ME GET THESE PEOPLE OUT OF MY LIFE AND ALLOW ME TO DO WHAT I THINK IS BEST FOR MY SON,PLEASE HAVE THEM CALL ME AT 209 9574643. I COULD SEE THEM BEING IN CONTROL IF ITS A PARENTLESS CHILD BUT THEY MAKE ME FEEL LIKE I AM A CLIENT AND THEY ARE RUNNING MY ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD! THIS IS MY HOUSE AND MY LIFE I CHOOSE!

  2. I care for my 95 year old father, he is leagaly blind very hard of hearing and he has limited walking ability with the assistance of a walker or me. He has no teeth and has throat cancer and Emphazima and uses a breathing machine.
    I understand what you are trying to say of getting help. I have a brother that lives less than 2 miles from us, He doesn’t help with taking care of his dad nor offers me time to do the normal things to keep a house running. Like shopping for food, clothing etc. I have to take my dad with me or try and run all my errands with the fear of him being alone. I did get the Alert button so if he needed help he could push the button, that is $30.00 a month but well worth the money just to know he could get help should he needed it.

    To take my dad for an outting is a lot of work, you need to have an emergency pack ready to go with snacks, water and a change of clothing. You get them ready to go then you slap yourself together and start toting all the suppolies you might need to the car. He is like caring for a new baby, but I am proud I can take care of him, I have been doing this for 3 years and He has not spent one day with any of the family only his son my brother comes and visits him for half an hour or so then he leaves. They wanted to put him in a home, but his mind is to alert to send him to home. Hardships we have, money gets tight, but I wouldn’t put my dad in a home as long as I am able to tend to his needs. I wish my family would care more but they don’t so I face it and go on. I am not a hero I am the daughter of this man, he worked hard to see me raised, sent me to school and kept a roof over my head and we never had any assistance that I know about from the welfare system. He worked hard jobs, dirty jobs, jobs that has put him in the position he is in now. He didn’t have the luxury of ear plugs, safety glasses or what we have now to protect the hearing and sight. Well I could go on and on but I want you to know sister in need of help, time and caring yourself,,, God Loves You and so does your son.

    A friend and an IHSS worker.

    Linda L Whitson

  3. This is reply to Michelle Franklin and I hope it is helpful. I too take care of my 32year old disabled daughter (Autism)so I know about the problems and the system.
    First – try to focus on one problem at a time. Priority one #- I feel that should be getting another Social Worker. Go to her supervisor arrange a meeting. If that doesn’t work go to your supervior for the county board of supervisors. At this meeting focus only on what is pertinent to the meeting – getting a different soc. worker assigned to you
    Don’t go into all the past as it can’t be changed and may just confuse the issue at hand which is getting a different social worker.
    Also, – do not leave your son alone at all at any time. You say that you leave him asleep in the middle of the night to go grocery shopping etc. You also said that you and your other son went to get food and left your disabled son in the hotel room only to come back and find him wondering in the hall.
    WHEN YOU LEAVE HIM ALONE – THIS IS NOT
    PROTECTIVE SUPERVISION!!! Please stop it as something could happen to him and he could get hurt. Maybe a fire in the house, or an intruder. A lot of bad things can happen. Please stop leaving alone. When you leave him alone you are not providing protective supervision.
    If you really want IHSS out of your life then the only answer is to cacelling receiving any benefits from them. Once you do that they will no longer visit your home or dictated how you should provide care for your son. It is a fairly simple matter to cancell them. As long as IHSS is paying the bill for us to take care of our loved one they will have input in the standard of care we provide for them.
    You have to play by their rules.
    MIchelle you sound stressed and exhausted. That is understandable – we have all been there. Perhaps there is a respite worker you can find or hire.
    We have a great one and it makes all the difference in the world but we have gone thru a few workers to find this one. They are some really good workers out there. It takes some work and looking to find the right one.
    Contact as many agencies like Regional Center, etc to get advice and referrals. Remember to focus on the problem at hand which is how to improve your son life (and yours) now and for the future. Let go of the past you can’t change a thing about it. It only cause heartache for all the things that happened. Move forward and get your son the care and loving environment he deserves.
    I say all these things with sincerity and hope that in some way that they can be a help to you and your son.
    Best of Luck – Susanna G.

  4. This is addition reply to Michelle Franklin: Sorry but I did think of something else I thought might helpful.
    Any time you have communication with the County have someone else with you. Two heads are better than one. Have your person take notes. It just might help.
    Also, maybe you could get your son into a day program or shelter workshop for a few hours a day. This would be good for you and he might enjoy the company of his own peers. Just some thoughts I had. Forget the past and make your future bright. Good Luck and God Bless.

  5. IHSS has never allowed sub-contracting and it is very clear in the paperwork that you sign when you sign up to be a provider. I think you may have misunderstood.
    Also, I would like to add that there is a difference between fraud and cases that are overassessed. Fraud is usually intentional. The issue of cases being overassessed has to do with the IHSS Regulations put out by the State. They are full of gray area and can be interpretted in many ways. The problem in IHSS is the REGULATIONS not FRAUD!!! Someone needs to seriously look at the way the assessments are done and how counties interpret the regulations. I have worked as an IHSS Social Worker for over 5 years and in 2 different counties. The descrpencies from worker to worker and county to county are huge. The program is not clear and the regulations allow for people who don’t really need the services to be able to receive them. This is what is causing the program to grow so rapidly. Too many people think it is a housekeeping program for anyone who is elderly or disabled whether they can do the chores themselves or not.

  6. Once a benefit level (number of hours) has been established the law requires the county to produce evidence which proves there has been a change in the person’s condition or living situation in order to justify any reduction in hours.

    Contact Disability Rights Advocates (lawyers paid by the Fed. Gov. to help you) and ask them to get you the “County’s Burden Memo.” Show that memo to any administrative law judge and you should win your hearing.

  7. Steve that is a great post. I wasn’t aware of that County Burden Memo.
    I think that Ms. Franklin was being paid for protective supervision yet she really wasn’t providing protection supervision. By her own accounts she leaves her son alone sleeping in the middle of the night to go grocery shopping and other times she left him alone in the hotel room to go get food.
    Leaving him all by himself is not protective supervision.

  8. It is frustrating to read judgemental posts. It would be nice if someone would comment in a helpful manner. One poster does the grocery shopping in the middle of the night when her son is sleeping. I am a single mother with 2 special needs children, no family or other support and my own disabilities. Maybe Susanna has some suggestions for those of us who have very limited resources and support. I live 2 blocks from the grocery store and did that one time in complete fear and misery that something might happen. My second comment has to do with fraud. I don’t understand how there can be so much fraud when those of us who do qualify and desperately need the service get denied due to errors on IHSS Medical and Social Security’s part or claims they never received the documents I hand carried to their office and the outageous mis-interpretations on their end and no case manager assigned and even worse, going to the office to meet face to face for a dialogue and being told to submit documents you submitted previously! If those of us who need it have such a hard time getting it, how is it that fraud is such a big problem? Laurie

  9. To the last poster – I am sorry that you feel my posts were “judgemental”. That was not my intention. I sincerely wanted to help Michelle who was clearly overwhelmed by the system.
    I do have some suggestions but they are just that- “suggestions” and are meant to be of help in some way. I am in my 60’s and provide the sole care for my dau who has autism. I live from pay check to paycheck. I drive a car that is 13 years old and my furniture is at least 20 years. We live 23 miles from the nearest grocery store because it is cheaper to live here. So you can see I too have limited resources. My only family is my dad who is 91 years old and he is unable to help in anyway. I have no other children or family. I have no other support. I must do everything myself.
    First – anyone who is a caretaker of a loved one must be an strong advocate.
    Get signed up with your local Regional Center. They can put you in touch with people or organization that can help you with Soc. Sec. They have all kinds of information on other programs that can help you like Day Programs, Sheltered Workshops, etc. You will still have to do the work but you will know where to look.
    Find a support group in your area. If you child has autism there are groups. If you child has Down’s there are also groups. The parents/caregivers you will meet there are a wealth of information. Someone there has probably had the same problems as you.
    Next call every church you can find in your general area. You don’t have to be a member to get help. If the churches you call can’t help you ask them if they know who can. Get referrals. I found one church that actually has a “disabilities ministry”.
    They have church members who volunteer to help any disabled person who asks for help. They have been a wonderful help.
    Next call the County Office on Aging and also call the City where you live.
    Let them know what kind of help you need. Ask them for referrals.
    Call your local Senior Center and explain your situation. Let them know what you need.
    Find another mother who is in the same boat you are. I now have two friends that have disabled dau. I have culivated these friendships We take turns watching each other kids so that we can go to the store, dr. appts, etc. This is a big help.
    Your situation with Soc. Sec. sounds familiar to anyone who has been involved with them. Soc. Sec. has been inundated with people applying for disability. A lot of folks in their 50’s have been laid off and can’t find jobs are now applying like made for an
    imagined disability. It was bad for us when I applied for my dau.and I hear it has gotten worse now. For your situation I would say “hang in there”.
    Keep at it and don’t give up. The system is bad, very bad and stacked against us. All we have is our will and determination to get the very best for our loved ones. There is help out there but you really have to look for it.

    I am hoping that my suggestions are a help and not taken as being anything other that that.

    All the best – Susanna G.

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