Saturday, November 21, 2009

Child with CP turned away from day care in Alabama

From WAFF-TV in Alabama:

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A woman facing enormous difficulties in finding a daycare for her special needs son is now on a mission for equality. She says her son has been turned down one too many times because he has cerebral palsy.

James Pollard (pictured), 2, is a delightful child, especially when he's in the pool.

"He can do everything a normal 2-year-old can do," said James' mother Mary Ellen Pollard (pictured). "He talks, he laughs, he plays, he colors, he eats Play Doh."

But one thing James can't do is walk. Born two months premature, he has a form of cerebral palsy. The pool is his physical therapy. It's challenging but necessary.

But lately, Mary Ellen Pollard is facing another challenge. Pollard was recently told her son was no longer welcome at the church daycare he'd been attending.

"At first they told me no, but then I brought James so they could see him," she said. "They saw that he moves, they saw that it wasn't medically necessary to have a one-on-one [aide], and they said, 'Let's do a 30-day trial.'"

"The 30 days came and went, everybody said, 'He was wonderful, we love him," Pollard said. "When he missed, they were like, 'Where did he go?' As far as we knew, everything was wonderful."

But it wasn't. Pollard said she was told the church couldn't care for James any longer. Legally there's nothing she can do.

Day cares run by religious entities do not have to abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act. But sadly, she said she has been turned away by licensed day cares.

"They said, 'No, we don't take special needs children,'" Mary Ellen Pollard said. "Just flat out, even though that's against the ADA laws, they just said that they just don't."

The ADA specifically states licensed day care cannot exclude children with disabilities unless they pose a direct threat to others. Pollard said her son is no threat.

"It was very frustrating," she said. "It was very disheartening to look at my child and he's not wanting. When I see this is everyday, I see that he's a 2-year-old that gets [a lollipop] all over him, he's just a normal kid that just happens to not walk, yet."

For now, Pollard will keep looking for a daycare for her son. In the meantime, it's back to her routine.

WAFF 48 News talked with the pastor of the church. He said the situation is challenging, and said they hope to speak with the parents next week.