Families struggle after autism treatment center closes

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WORTHINGTON, OH (WCMH) — Several Central Ohio families are still hurting after the Elijah Glen Center closed almost two months ago.

The center offered long-term treatment for 12- to 18-year-olds with moderate to severe autism.

Parent Tim Richardson said there’s no other 24-hour treatment facility like the Elijah Glen Center in Ohio.

His son 13-year-old son Sam has autism.

“It’s a full time job having a child with autism,” parent Tim Richardson said. “He sent me and my wife to urgent care with bites to our hands and arms.”

Richardson said Sam doesn’t mean to be violent, it’s a behavioral issue associated with his autism.

“There’s no where to send a kid like that right now. There’s not the funding for it. This place is perfect, but it’s closed.” Richardson said. “The next best place for Sam is in Baltimore, Maryland, which is seven hours away.”

There is hope of the center re-opening. Franklin County Residential Services is stepping in to find a more long-term solution.

However, parents are still facing the issue of finding the money themselves to pay for treatment.

Parent, Ronald Reth said he tried to get his son into the Elijah Glen Center, but didn’t have the money to cover the cost. He was told he could give up custody of his son to get access to treatment services.

“I think all parents love their kids and I don’t think any parents wants to give up custody and for a government to say yes I’ll give you help if you give up custody of your kid is terrible,” parent Ronald Reth said.

The Public Children Services Association of Ohio wrote a letter to Senator Randy Gardner, the Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Multi-System Youth.

The stakeholders asked Senator Gardner to focus on decreasing or eliminating the need for custody relinquishment in order to access services.

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