One in 4 Americans suffers from some sort of disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Black Americans have the highest rate of disability at just over 20 percent. This particular group not only struggles with disabilities but also poverty. Now, several organizations are stepping up to do something about it.
Jermina Taylor says her son, Montrell, started having seizures at the age of 3. By the age of 7, she knew he was developmentally behind other children, so she enrolled Montrell in special education classes.
He went on to graduate from high school, but she knew she had to do more.
Roughly 1 in 5 adults surveyed reported providing care or assistance to a friend or family member in the past 30 days. Nearly half of caregivers are over 45, and 34% are older than 65.
Dr. Asim Shah is with the Baylor College of Medicine, which has dedicated research teams studying intellectual and developmental disabilities. He says our country must do something now to care for those who can’t care for themselves.
“Look at some other countries like England and Canada. They have compassionate care. Why can’t we have compassionate care?” said Dr. Shah.
In Montrell’s case, Jermina enlisted help from Challenge Unlimited, and the organization found a job for Montrell.
Charlotte Hammond, president of Challenge Unlimited, says it’s about so much more than finding employment and residential living--it’s about providing independence.
“It's bringing those resources to them so that they know that there is a next step after high school and those individuals don't have to sit at home, that they can have a thriving life outside,” Hammond said.
Dr. Shah says small charities are doing a great job in providing care but there simply aren’t enough. He says it’s ultimately going to be the federal government that must step up and creates more availability for group homes. This would take the burden off the private sector.
Meanwhile, private companies are trying to do their part by teaming up with charities.
Hammond calls it’s a win-win.
“You're going to get skilled workers. I'm not saying every individual that you hire is going to be that perfect employee, but you have individuals who are looking for not a handout, but a hand up,” Hammond said.
For Jermina, it’s all about knowing that her son will be OK when she’s not there.
“I just want him to be able to if anything was to happen to me at least. So, he'll be on his own if he had to,” the mother said.