More Loopholes and Gaps in Legislation

Article IX Cost a Tucson Family $100,000 and 2.5 Years While They Worked To Keep Their Daughter Safe
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Photo from AZCentral.com

A recent article by Mary Jo Pitzl tells the story of a Tucson family who has had to fight with the State over “a piece of durable medical equipment, designed to provide a safe environment for people with neurodevelopmental disorders and obtained through a medical prescription.”

Ms. Pitzl writes: “(This) battle with state authorities over the bed that Julianna’s doctors had prescribed dragged on for 2 1/2 years, burned through $100,000 in attorney fees and challenged the notion of how much – or how little – restraint is allowed when caring for individuals with developmental disabilities.

“(There were calls to) both police and DCS (who) dismissed the complaints. But the problems persisted. (There were) more calls to DCS, more visits by child-welfare investigators –  10 in all, each finding the complaint unsubstantiated.”

Sometimes restraints are needed. A parent who uses a restraint system for her son made the following statement:

“We want to be the least restrictive in what we do, but we also want to keep them alive.” 

Ms. Pitzl’s article continues the discussion on the use of restraints for safety, the changes implemented due to new leadership, and the need to change legislation:

The line between “restraint” and “safety” can be difficult to define.  Families come up with solutions because they have to,” (Julianna’s mother) said. “It’s easy to be judgmental when you don’t have to be there 24/7.

“The oversized bed gives Julianna more freedom of movement than any of her chairs, the couple noted. But because she can stand up and walk around, keeping it unlocked risks falls.If the locked bed is a restraint, then so is a wheelchair or a specialty chair because Julianna is strapped in them to prevent her from falling out. Julianna spends the day in her wheelchair, with three points of restraint, when she goes to a local public school.”

Ms. Pitzl reports that Julianna fell several times, which is why the safety bed is needed:

“Those falls happened more than once. On July 4, 2017, a caregiver was mopping the floor, her back to Julianna, when the girl stood, pitched backward and hit her head on a dresser, according to a DCS report Garret shared. 

“In another case, Julianna fell and suffered a seizure in a moment when a caregiver had turned away, her parents noted in a complaint filed with DDD.”

Ms. Pitzl reports on the effect of new leadership in DDD, and the needed changes in legislation:

“(The new director and his team) inspected (Julianna’s) bed, the trendy decor in Julianna’s room with its turquoise walls and mosaic sink, and visited with Julianna.  And they agreed to change Julianna’s Individual Service Plan to include use of the bed for “safe sleeping and play.”

“The Wadsacks got the revised plan in early January. It ended more than 800 days of limited use of the safety bed and freed caregivers to properly clean the room, or step out of the room to take out the garbage or do the laundry.

“Their savings account is drained, their credit rating dismal. They want Article 9 changed, to allow more flexibility and to clarify it does not apply if a child does not have behavioral issues.

“The average family cannot do this,” Garret said of their long-running fight. Facing off against state agencies, dealing with repeated DCS visits would intimidate many people, he said.

“The legal disputes drag on. State attorneys argue their claims have no basis. Meanwhile, Article 9 is getting an update… A draft is expected to be ready for public comment by fall.”


Also from the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com:

“During 2016, more than 18,000 children were separated from their families in Arizona. The crisis of removing so many children – and whether keeping children safe requires so many to be taken away – has challenged state leaders for decades. Supported by the Arizona Community Foundation, The Arizona Republic and azcentral are getting to the heart of the story. If you have an experience with the Department of Child Safety in Arizona (or its predecessor, CPS), we want to hear from you – current or past experiences, good or bad.”

You can share your story by following this link, and decide whether to share your contact information.


Read more about loopholes in our Legislation, and what we can do to make things better at www.feliciachew.com/loopholes


“We are each a piece of the puzzle of life.  Without each of us, our picture is incomplete.”

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