Today when I picked up my son at his house to take him to the doctor, he was very excited to tell me about things he had learned. Unfortunately, he doesn’t understand what it means or how scary the situation is – to him it’s exciting news because someone he knows was on TV.
Malika lived in my son’s supportive community – “Malika moved” “Malika on TV” “Malika lost” was the news that he told me.
Malika has now been found:
A 17-year-old mentally disabled girl who ran away from a Bonney Lake-area group home Sunday was found safe this morning, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.
Auburn police found Maliika Andrus at a Starbucks coffee shop after a witness reported seeing her. She was taken to a local hospital for evaluation and will be returned to the group home later today.
Staff last saw the teen early Sunday morning at the facility in the 18400 block of South Tapps Drive East. Deputies believe she tampered with the alarm on the window of her room so she could escape
Washington State passed a harmful law in 2011 which prohibits “youth” 21 and under from admission to the supportive community of our state’s Residential Habilitation Centers (RHCs). They may be allowed short term admission in crisis situations if no other alternatives are available. The only alternative is the new 3-bed crisis stabilization unit – that is hardly sufficient to safely care for our youth. Malika was most likely admitted on a short term stay and that had expired. Our state had to evict her from the safe community to a group home. Alarms are not nearly as safe as alert human eyes and presence.
This law puts all our youth with disabilities and their families at risk. We need to overturn this law to help prevent harm to our loved ones.
Malika, a 17 year old, has been missing since yesterday morning. I do not know the circumstances but I know Malika. She had lived at the same supportive community as my son and participated in the Special Olympics the past few years with him. I would also frequently see her out walking and tending to the garden. I had not seen her recently and now I know why. She had been moved to a group home near Seattle.
Malika is still missing. She has a history of elopement and the alarm at the group home did not work when she decided to leave. Alarms useless if they do not work or if there is not a responsible person to respond to it. Apparently neither of those things were working in this case and Malika is the one who is suffering.
I hear these stories and it confirms my thinking that a supportive community with active and alert staff is the safest environment for many of our loved ones. This would not have happened if Malika had been living at Fircrest.
When I talk with my friend, the mother of another 19 year old at Fircrest who the state is trying to evict due to our age discrimination law of not allowing those under 21 access to the care of the supportive community, the fear and anxiety in my heart come to a full boil. I cannot imagine fearing that my child would be evicted from his safe community home only to satisfy those who know nothing about caring for our loved ones. Why must we be subjected to this brutality and have to fight to keep our kids safe?