During this COVID-19 outbreak, many are facing new challenges every day, but what about those who were already struggling with physical and mental disabilities before this disaster struck?
Texarkana Resources for the Disabled, Inc. is a program established over 50 years ago that has been helping individuals with disabilities in the Texarkana area since 1968. The day-program allows people with disabilities the opportunity to work on general assembly projects while earning a wage.
“Texarkana Resources is primarily a day-program and vocational training program for about 60 individuals with disabilities,” said Jennifer Lewis, Executive Director of Texarkana Resources. She also said that around 85% of state funding comes from having the day-program and with that shutdown, funding has vanished.
Supported by the day program, Resources provides a community living home for 14 disabled adults that requires an around-the-clock staff.
As the virus spreads, funding dwindles; Lewis is genuinely concerned for the residents and staff of the community living home, saying that some of these residents would be homeless or in a potentially abusive or exploitative situation, imparting most do not have any family and some have absolutely no support from the state.
“One of the biggest challenges in the disability community is social distancing. You can’t social distance in a group home,” Lewis asserted.
She is afraid that Texarkana’s disabled citizens will be forgotten entirely as state government agencies turn a blind eye.
“We’re not getting the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) because we are not seen as health care providers, but we are administering meds, we are taking temperatures, checking vital signs, scheduling all their doctor visits, but we don’t have any of the federal relief dollars to support it, we don’t have any PPE to support it, and we are not seen as essential,” said Lewis.
Being a border-town compounds the problem of funding as both states have unique regulations and red-tape preventing support. Lewis has been waiting for three weeks to hear from Arkansas Medicaid.
“Nothing has been approved yet, things are still pending at the State level,” Lewis said. “We’ve had to apply for a PPP ( Paycheck Protection Program) loan because we don’t know if the State is going to give us relief.”