NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA) — Local children with disabilities are no longer getting transportation to therapy, and some families are becoming increasingly frustrated with the state.
Kristi Eledge adopted her daughter, Mariskia, in 2017.
Miriskia is developmentally delayed and attends a local child development center for occupational and physical therapy.
But now it’s harder to get her there.
“Numerous times there was a no-call, no show, they finally told us they didn’t have vans, didn’t have drivers, couldn’t make their obligations,” Eledge said. “It makes a hardship especially when it drops in your lap all at once. This is a service that has been provided since before I adopted Mariskia and all a sudden now it’s like — it’s gone.”
According to the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, the broker that provided non-emergency transportation services to Medicaid recipients was terminated.
DHS tells us transportation service Southeastrans, or S.E.T., has stepped in with only 13 days to implement its transportation.
“Since February, nobody just showed up one day basically is what happened. They were supposed to come to pick them up and no one showed up,” foster parent Ana Hawkins said.
DHS sent us this statement:
“This area of the state has historically been a difficult area to serve due to its rural layout and problems were compounded by several subcontractors not signing to perform work with S.E.T.”
This transportation gap is leaving some families scrambling to find a way to get their kids to school, some kids even having to miss therapy.
“What’s so hard to understand is there were plenty of providers before, and how can you switch a contract over to a company that doesn’t have any providers throughout the state for such an important issue?” Hawkins asked.
The service that was once relied upon — now affecting necessary services.
“She needs that extra therapy to learn and function and be able to take care of herself someday,” Eledge said.
According to DHS, Southeastrans has a plan in place to continue adding subcontractors over the next few weeks, and their timeline shows compliance by the end of March.