By: Mike Vasilinda
June 19, 2013
More than 20,000 intellectually disabled Floridians are on a state waiting list for services. Three thousand are in critical need of help. New funding will help up to a third of those in critical need.
Ruth Ogburn gets up each morning, rides a bus to work, and then a half day later is back home listening to music or watching TV. “She can’t read, write, or tell time, but she can think”, says mother Lou Ogburn.
When Ruth was 18 months, doctors advised her adoptive parents to put her in an institution for the mentally disabled. “So, how do you like living here?” asked the reporter. Ruth Ogburn responded “Oh, I like it.”
“She does, not a high level job of course, but she takes the clothes out of boxes and puts them on hangers. She does some maintenance , some vacuuming, and in general she’s cheerful and happy” said Lou Ogburn.
Ruth’s stab at normalcy is possible because of state funding. It provides caretakers to help with shopping, cleaning, transportation, medical care and more. The cost is far less than the institution her parents turned down. “She can eat what she wants to, and she can… just… she’s just free. Like you are, like I am, to make her own decisions,” says Lou Ogburn.
There are three thousand people waiting for the same services Ruth is getting. New funding starting in July will cut the waiting list by about a third. “Well, what this will do for them is literally change their entire lives because some of them are struggling day to day,” said Barbara Palmer Director, Agency for Persons with Disabilities
The worst fear of a parent with a disabled child who is one the waiting list is that, that parent will die before that child gets services, and there will be no one to care for the child.
Lou Ogburns husband is currently in the hospital. Lou herself is in her 70’s.