Parents angry daughter is being forced out of youth home because of age
Published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 6:43PM AST
The parents of a young Nova Scotia woman with special needs are concerned about her wellbeing because the government is forcing her out of her youth home, and suggesting she move to another home with a group of older men.
Caitlyn Pickens is 23 years old but her parents say she acts more like a three year old due to lissencephaly - a rare brain disorder that has significantly delayed her development.
“Often with lissencephaly, they don’t survive infancy,” says her mother, Cheryl Pickens. “So the fact that Caitlyn is 23, that in itself is a miracle.”
Pickens has lived in the same youth home in Bridgewater since her parents made the difficult realization about six years ago that they could no longer care for her.
“It was presented to us that she could live there with supervision and she could age there, that could be her forever home,” says Cheryl Pickens.
But now the government is telling them a different story.
Officials say Newton House, where Pickens lives now, is technically for children and youth and that she should be in a home for adults.
“She’s like a child. She’s like a child, acts like a child, speaks like a child,” says her father, Corey Pickens. “To see her labeled as an adult, it’s just incomprehensible to me.”
Nova Scotia Community Services has suggested Pickens move to another home located 30 minutes away, with a group that includes older men.
“It wouldn’t be appropriate for any other 23-year-old females, and so why make that appropriate for someone who is the most vulnerable of all?” asks Cheryl Pickens.
She says her daughter stays ar Newton House with three other young people and with staff who are like family. It’s also less than five minutes away from her parents’ home.
“There are many other young people who could benefit from it and so it is moving along and ensuring others get the benefit,” says Nova Scotia Community Services spokesperson Lorna MacPherson.
But the Pickens say the government is using a blanket policy to address the needs of individuals.
“She’s not alone,” says Corey Pickens. “I know she represents this and I guess we’re wanting to voice a concern that others are not treated simply as another file.”
Officials say they are willing to reconsider where Pickens will live, but once the decision has been made, she will have to move out of Newton House.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell