Parents pleased to be part of discussion about daughter being forced out of youth home
Published Tuesday, March 5, 2013 7:16PM AST
Last Updated Tuesday, March 5, 2013 8:49PM AST
A young Nova Scotia woman is no longer being forced out of her youth home, after Community Services had a change of heart.
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,” her mother, Cheryl Pickens, told CTV News last week. “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.
However, officials recently told the Pickens family that Newton House is technically for children and youth and that Caitlyn would have to move to a different home.
Much to the family’s dismay, Nova Scotia Community Services suggested Pickens move to another home located 30 minutes away, with a group that includes older men.
"Our daughter seems to be caught in the middle, developmentally being very young, 36 months, in terms of her development, but yet being 23 chronologically," says Corey Pickens.
Cheryl Pickens says she showed up for a meeting with Community Services today, expecting to discuss her daughter’s transition to a new home.
She was surprised, and pleased, to hear the plan had been scrapped.
“They have definitely received the message that we’re not comfortable with it,” she says.
Community Services maintains Caitlyn will still have to move out of Newton House eventually, but they are willing to consider new possibilities, such as keeping her near her parents in Bridgewater, or having some of her care workers go with her.
“I don’t want everything in Caitlyn’s life to change,” says Cheryl Pickens.
“With the family’s input, we’re going back to the table,” says Community Services spokesperson Lorna MacPherson.
The family’s lawyer attended today’s meeting, along with a representative from an organization that supports families of children with developmental disabilities.
She says the Pickens are not alone in their plight.
“In Nova Scotia there are a large number of people who are inappropriately placed and there is a real crisis in terms of a lack of appropriate homes,” says Jocelyne Tranquilla of the Nova Scotia Association for Community Living.
Community Services supports 5,200 people with disabilities across Nova Scotia.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell