When Damian comes home will he have a therapeutic school to go to?
Yes changes need to be made but we need GNETS. Read the article link below for the media and the DOJ’s take on the GNETS program. Georgia is the only state in the country to operate and fund schools that are meant to provide a stop-gap to children having to be educated in residential care. Are they segregated, yes. Are they the best solution, no. Are some children unjustly placed in these programs, yes and we should be working to move those children out. But the alternative for Damian and many like him would be residential care until he is 18 years old, with no chance or hope of reprieve.
This is what we wrote to the GA Superintendent and Director of GNETS.
My husband and I are parents of a son with severe emotional behavioral disorder (SED) brought on by Bipolar Disorder. He was in a self-contained EBD classroom From Kindergarten-the middle of 4th grade. He was then referred to the North Metro GNETS program through 5th grade. He was then “stepped down” to a self contained EBD classroom for 6th grade. Unfortunately his BiPolar Disorder worsened and after 8 psychiatric hospitalizations in 3 months he was referred by his psychiatrist to a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility. Upon discharge 3 months later “The Bridge” GNETS facility coordinated his return from residential care. Unfortunately 1 month later his BiPolar Disorder made it unsafe for him to stay at home and he was referred back to residential care. His upcoming discharge in November of 2016 will again be coordinated with “The Bridge” GNETS program.
Even with supportive parents, family, medications, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and state provided wrap-around services our son would not be able to function in school without GNETS. We do not believe that the DOJ or the Georgia public fully comprehend what life is really like educating or living with a child with severe mental illness. We do not believe that parents of children with SED have considered the alternative to GNETS, which is residential care.
With GNETS parents have a chance to keep their children at home with their family. Without GNETS our 13 year old son and our family would face the hard reality that the rest of his childhood and education could only be provided in a residential facility. A facility which is hours from our home, hours from our family, and hours from our love. Having our son educated in the Least Restrictive Environment is GNETS. He may not not be with “typical” peers during the day, but at least with GNETS we have the hope he can stay with our family and community. We just want to be together as a family and GNETS gives us the opportunity to hope.
We wanted to share with you our support and never ending gratitude for Georgia’s North Metro and The Bridge GNETS programs.
Garrett and Debra Cronnelly
5881 Deer Crossing Drive
Sugar Hill, GA 30518