Thousands Of NC Families Await Help For Special Needs Kids

Apr 25, 2019

Jacob Fields and his son Roan walk through a wooded area near the Murdoch Developmental Center in Butner, N.C.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

For families with special needs children, putting kids into institutional care is often a desperate act of last resort. Many parents and caregivers prefer to keep their children at home where they can give them as much love and attention as possible, but they need help to do so. Families of children with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities are eligible for assistance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services through a portion of Medicaid called the Innovations Waiver. Through the program, they can get help purchasing things like medical supplies, wheelchairs and in-home skillbuilding and therapy. But the program’s funding constraints means more than 12,000 families remain on a waitlist.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC data reporter Jason Debruyn about the obstacles to expanding the program and the stories of the many families who wait for its benefits.