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March 8th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

Saving Carlos: Budget cuts leave 2nd-grader behind

Editor’s Note: Carlos is a little boy who suffers from ADHD and severe anxiety. His family doesn't have insurance and relies on the public mental health system. But now a broke state may be taking out a mortgage on his future. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez has his story for the American Morning original series we're calling "Saving Carlos." Tomorrow, we find out how just how much Carlos' therapy costs taxpayers and whether he'll be able to keep on going.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="8-year-old Carlos is at the mercy of California lawmakers who control the state's budget and, in some way, his future."]

By Thelma Gutierrez, CNN

(CNN) – South Los Angeles is a community of working class families, hit hard by the economy. This is where I met Carlos more than a month ago.

He is a young boy who is at the mercy of California lawmakers. They control the state's budget and, in some way, his future.

Carlos needs help. He's only in the 2nd grade already and he’s falling through the cracks.

Carlos lives with his sister and parents. They're unemployed, uninsured and barely scraping by. Among Carlos' many challenges in life, he also suffers from severe anxiety and ADHD.

He meets regularly with Elena Fernandez, director of behavioral health, at St. John's Community Clinic in South Los Angeles. She's trying to unlock the causes of his angst.

Kids slipping through cracks Video

Elena uses art therapy to help Carlos express things that are going in his life. Carlos' mother says she believes it is critical for people to understand how important these services are to children like her son.

During therapy, Carlos draws a picture of his “family fights.”

“This is my mom, this is my dad. Sometimes he fights with me,” he says. “…sometimes I cry.”

Carlos tells Elena his dad used to drink and that led to fighting between his mom and dad. He says at home, there was no escape. That was six months ago. Carlos' life was in shambles.

“I just want to leave somewhere,” he says. “I tell them not to fight. I tell ‘em if you fight, I'm out of here.”

“He first came to me because he was having lots of problems at home and mom did not know how to modify his behavior,” says Fernandez. “The teacher was frustrated and didn't know how to help Carlos and was writing him up or sending him to the office or wanting him out of the classroom instead of working with him.”

Carlos' mom, Leticia, tells me she worried her son was being written off at the age of 8. He felt labeled as a "bad kid" and rejected by his teacher. Leticia said she knew mental health services. She searched for clinics that accept Medi-Cal, a state public health program for the poor.

Leticia says she tried really hard to get help. She says she took him to four different clinics and each time she was told Carlos didn't qualify because he wasn't considered an emergency.

Carlos would have to be physically violent or suicidal to get help. It sounds extreme, but an official with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health told us clinics are so overloaded and under-funded, they're forced to triage children. And right now, those who need ongoing therapy like Carlos, are not a priority.

After nearly a year of searching, Leticia finally found St. John's, a free clinic.

If Carlos wasn't able to go to his therapy sessions at St. John’s, would he be at risk?

“Of course he would be at risk,” says Fernandez. “He'd be at risk behaviorally and academically.”

But now, St. Johns and other clinics like it are also facing California's bruising budget cuts. The 7000 people who receive help from St. John's alone will no longer receive mental health care, and that includes 4000 kids just like Carlos whose family is now in therapy.

Filed under: Education cuts • Health • Saving Carlos
soundoff (266 Responses)
  1. Sharkey

    What ever happened to HARD WORK! My mom was one of ten brothers and sisters. My grandpa was a state policeman while my grandma stayed at home with all the kids. All ten put themselves through college and by the grace of God I was born to my mother who is the hardest working woman I have ever met. My mother saved up enough money to send me to my first year of college at a state school. I loved it so much I joined ROTC so I could finish school. My point is my Mom worked hard her whole life to keep me health care and a jump start into my career as an Army Officer. Poor kid is right these parents are not fit to live with there son. The state should take him unless they prove to be working hard to help him. In a sense this is child abuse. Dont not make taxpayers soley responseible.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:44 pm |
  2. Norm

    Oh my goodness. This article has completely taken responsibility from the parents and dumped it on an overburdened society.
    I think it might be time for involuntary sterilisation. If my taxes are going to be used to parent other people's children, then I want a say in who can and can't have them to begin with.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:44 pm |
  3. AAW

    It sucks but this what happens when people and governments carry themselves irresponsibly. This boy is going to pay for the irresponsible actions of his parents and rediculous way California has spent money. No way around it, the cuts have to be made.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  4. dcw

    Oh. My. God.

    It is so convenient for people to make assumptions. Who is to say that the parents aren't working their asses off trying to get a job? People assume instantly that they aren't even trying. Who is to say that they would be able to afford mental health insurance if they WERE working? Mental health care is prohibitively expensive in a lot of places. His name is Carlos so people instantly assume that his family may well be made up of illegal immigrants and therefore somehow not entitled to basic health care? So appalling.

    Laying the blame for his condition is pointless. Finding a way to patch the leaks in the health care and budget system is the solution. It's easy to point fingers and hard to come up with solutions. Having been in that's brutal, and it's humiliating, and it's not something I would wish on my worst enemy. His parents' fighting may have caused the anxiety, but that doesn't make it unworthy of treatment.

    Let's have fewer blame-slinging sessions and more solutions put on the table. If people worked more on fixing the problem than focusing on whose fault the problem was, we might actually have a competent government working for the common good.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  5. Jon

    CNN probably regrets running this story. Gauging from the anger in this posts, it will have precisely the opposite affect than what they intended. It underscores the absurdity of what people are asking for out there. Just look at it. Carlos's parents are fighting. Dad, likely a total bum, comes home drunk and fights with Mom. Mom, who to me appears totally delusional, thinks that her son drawing pictures of their fighting at a government-run social program will cure all his anxiety. The reality is, Mom has to suck it up and dump Dad to the curb and she has to get a job and buy some Xanax (which she will probably be able to afford after Dad stops blowing all the family budget on tequila). We all have issues. I have been jobless. I've had no money to buy groceries. I know what it feels like, and it sucks! But never once did I ask for government or charity support. I made due with what I had, got an education, bettered myself, and manned up and hit the pavement to find suitable work to support my family. Dad needs to be kicked in the head.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  6. Marie

    CNN, are you kidding? Do you honestly think that this story would draw sympathy for the poor victims of budget cuts? I think you have accomplished just the opposite. This story is a PERFECT example of why fiscal conservatives are so angry at the government. I have never read a more compelling case for personal responsibility than this one. Both the problem and the solution are so blatantly obvious that I fail to see where you have made the case that this family deserves "medical" services at the expense of the tax payor. I am constantly battling my nutty right wing conservative and Libertarian friends over balancing the need for compassionate spending for the poor and exercising fiscal restraint. You have just made my job considerably harder.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  7. tdr

    I have to agree with DCdude. Why should this child end up as a taxpayer burden? I also have to ask the same question that Linda C asked, "Is this child a US citizen?" Both of these questions are going to raise the hackles of bleeding hearted liberals that have fallen for Mrs. Clinton's "It takes a village" mantra. Sure it might take a Africa...but it shouldn't take a village in the US. What has happened to individual responsibilities? Carlos' parents pump out kids they cannot afford to have, and the burden of paying to raise and take care of their kids fall on the rest of us. Wrong answer, CNN. I have been financially responsible and raised only the number of children that I could afford to support. Yes, I would have loved to have several more children, but I knew what my limitations were financially. It's called individual responsibility. Whether I was digging ditches, waiting tables, serving in the military, or what. I knew my family relied on me, not on excuses.

    We need to stop with this, "everyone pitch in and raise someone elses children because the childs parents are worthless" attitude.

    If Carlos and his family are illegals the answer is deportation. Send their problem back to their country of origin and stop burdening America's middle class with taxes that are choking the life out of them. If they are "illegal immigrants" the key word is "illegal". Enforce the laws and deport them.

    Now, liberal, bleeding heart wannabe socialists, fire away.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  8. sfrancisco

    Okay. . .lets be real. Whether we like how little Carlos got here, or the decisions his parents made, he's a child. He didn't ask to be born, and he didn't ask to be born into these circumstances. The blame game gets this little boy nowhere and I think that as a taxpayer, I'd rather pay the bill for his therapy right now, than pay for his incarceration later on. Whether we like it or not, he's in the system. I live in Wisconsin and my daughter is disabled. Her issues do not stem from ADHD or behaviour problems, but instead from a brain deformation similar to cerebral palsy. If it was a story about someone like her would everyone be saying to let the chips fall as they may? Let her not get treatment, who cares? If this is how we feel about the children in this society, I fear for them and for society as a whole, because we've lost the moral fiber of this country and it's sad. The kid needs us because his parents can't do it. If we don't invest in our children (the future), we've got a lot bigger problems coming ahead.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  9. Jim

    Most children I know with ADHD are highly intelligent and suffering from severe boredom. The school's answer to this is to medicate so the child falls closer to the norm. The real answer is for the parents to realize that the schools are incapable of educating these children and it is there job to find constructive avenues for their energy. I have been there personally and with my own children and grandchildren.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  10. sara

    If the counselor knows that Carlos' Dad hits him and the mom-dad have physical fights...why has she not reported this to Child Services?? This child should be removed immediately from the home and placed into a stable relatives home or foster care. What the parents are doing is abuse – may not leave bruises on the outside but clearly destroying the boy on the inside.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  11. james

    OK, I give up. Tell me how much it's going to cost to treat Carlos until he's 21 and this evil rich Republican will write a check, OK?

    First, if California hadn't run up so many ridiculous costly environmental regulations on housing that they drove business and people away, maybe the state would have enough revenue so they wouldn't have to cut Carlos' program.

    Second, who's fault is it that this kid was born into poverty - mine? I don't think so. I give thousands to charity each year. I don't need to give more in taxes. Get the kid's parents some training and a job.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  12. James

    It's the parents fault but should the boy pay their price?

    March 8, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  13. Mary Gillmore

    I hope both sides of the political fence recognize that we are seeing a shift in the way Americans view the poor. The idea that taxpayers are responsible for the people described in this article is an ancient one. Few people who actually pay significant taxes are willing to see the taxpayer get stuck with caring for a child whose parents are reckless and irresponsible. CNN: There is a reason your ratings have fallen. People just want to read the news. They don't want you to filter stories. People are sick of you trying to shape opinions.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  14. DK

    I completely think this is not the taxpayer's burden. First off, Carlos seems to be part of a family that is dysfunctional and the fault clearly falls on them. Furthermore, I believe that if you cannot afford to feed yourself, you should not have kids because they will not get the attention and care they deserve in order to be a productive member of society.

    Second, the system is broken but it can be fixed if we stop wasteful spending such as helping Carlos. We should be helping people who contribute to society, not those who mooch off the hardworking taxpayers who are pulling their fair share in these tough times.

    Lastly, on a personal note, I go to school in California and they give extra time for kids with ADHD to take a test. However, they do not act any different then myself and I study with them all the time. The real travesty is that they get better grades due to their extra time but employers do not know that they got extra time and therefore I am being left out of job when I graduate to someone, who may be as qualified, looks substantially better then myself. Furthermore, I can go to a doctor and tell them " I feel anxious and have trouble concentrating" and I will have ADD and get extra time as well. So unless it is changed I might as well milk the system and pretend to have a disease which in my personal belief is not real.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  15. Concerned

    Sounds like the the parents are the real problem. Children have high anxiety when they are in an unstable home environment. Stabilize the home environment and the child's emotions will stabilize.

    On another note, who wrote this article? It is poorly written and difficult to read.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
  16. Rochie

    I do feel bad for him as a child, I just wonder where do the parents actually pay? It sucks for kids, seriously. But all kids of all ages suffer through turmoil, just purely by growing up. Wewlcome to life. You don't need drugs to get through it. I know not all kids are the same, I just hate so many parents use it as an excuse to not properly teach their children. If they provide classes on how to help parents WHO WANT TO BE HELPED, then great! But stop blaming your inadequacies on your children. Kids need a line they know is not allowed to be crossed. These days we give them excuses for everything. Start taking responsibility as a parent and stop blaming society.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
  17. FstEti

    SJC, you miss the point entirely. If taxpayers wish to take care of their pets, go to a movie, buy a flat screen tv, whatever, they have a RIGHT to do so in this Country. You may have a differing opinion and may be entirely correct but they have the RIGHT to do whatever they want to with their money, within the law. On the other hand, there is no RIGHT to healthcare, Apparently you and people like you think that your opinions should be "rights", while real "rights" (according to the Constitution) are just misguided opiions to be discarded if they don't fit into your mindset. You have it backwards. There is no "right" to healthcare, housing, or food, for that matter, only the right to acquire these things; merely living in this Country doesn't require that society has to take care of you.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
  18. Mark

    OK so we all feel sorry for the Kid, But the colum dosn't say a word about MediCal that is FREE for the the Children of Califorina...Opps another Goverment program.........but the real problem is the PARENTS and their Family.....It's not My fault that this happened.....So why should I pay for it? I'm being penalized for taking care for my family that now I must do the same for others who arn't responsible?
    What ever happened to "Give a Man a Fish he eats for a day...Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime... Well in this case the people just expect others to take care of their problem for them.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
  19. ED

    It looks like it is time to bring out the bleeding heart cases, to show us all what being fiscally responsible will mean to those"less fortunate"
    I was wondering what was taking so long, I figured they would be inundating the airwaves with these "stories" by now.
    By the way, back in the day, lots of kids had "anxiety" and "ADHD"
    It was called being a kid and learning to grow up, now it is a billion dollar industry.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
  20. Geni

    Food is Medicine. Look into his diet and figure out what he is, and is not, reacting to. Food allergies cause a panic response in the body and the brain that often come out as "bad behavior". Focus is taught and learned, it might take some kids a little longer to learn, but there is no need for medication for these kids.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
  21. Matt

    I love the way the media likes to put out a tear jerker story only to pull at our heart strings in order to sway the public towards health care reform. Seems manipulative.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
  22. z

    Throughout history people have suffered from things like ADHD and "severe anxiety". Get over Carlos. Sorry to be harsh but do you think most countries care if there kids have ADHD. If it is that bad his guardians or whoever should do what it take not lawmakers. That is like saying my dad is not around, will you raise me senator???
    CNN you are a little too biased to the left on this one.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm |
  23. Adam

    I don't mean to be so harsh and I know this will draw fire, but enough with the health reform sob stories already. Is CNN the new Obama PR agency? How many second graders do you know that don't have a hard time focusing on things? Maybe we should stop diagnosing conditions that don't need expensive medical attention, like ADHD in elementary school kids. And I'd be pretty anxious too if my parents were unemployed drunks who fought all the time. This is a sad case of a neglected child, but should not be manipulated as an argument for health care reform.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
  24. LA

    I am sorry Carlos is having a difficult time but its not the tax payers of Califorina or the other 49 states to pay his medical bills. If the family manages to find money to drink with maybe the could pay some of it on medical bills even if they paid at a discount rate thats better than free! I am tired of paying for drug addicts and alcholic's dependent childrens health care etc. I love children dearly and have raised 6 of them myself by working mulitple jobs, I am proud to say they are all respectable hard work adults with children of their own . Neither myself nor my children ever received a penny of Federal or State help. Yes they wore 2nd hand clothes and ate carrots for after school snacks instead of name brand clothes or candy /soda for snacks. They grew up to appreciate hard work and how to save and value the money they earned how to spend it wisely. Carlos parent shoudl try that instead of crying for a hand out.


    March 8, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  25. trisha

    Grace B it seems like you didn't comprehend the article. His parents don't work. His father drinks and his parents fight. This also points out that we don't need health insurance reform. Carlos is receiving "FREE" health care already at the expense of the taxpayers. Yes, Carlos needs help, but his parents need to be put in jail for child abuse or negligence. Why should Americans just hand over our paychecks, but not get to judge how our money is being used?

    March 8, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  26. Jon

    What is the purpose of this article and series? Did it make rain the magical money trees? In tough economic times, we make tough economic choices, and, frankly, tough economic times often come because we did not make tough economic choices. We all understand that it stinks that we're affected by budget cuts, but seriously, this seems like a very low priority compared to what other people are going through out there. This kid's parents need to suck it up and take personal responsibility and stop using the government as a means into my wallet. It causes me mental anxiety thinking of how we're going to pay for all this.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  27. jammtx

    Nobody is saying this kid or other people shouldn't be helped but what people are saying is these parents are sitting here blaming the system when it seems they should be blaming themselves. I am fortunate that I have a great job with great insurance, I didn't go to college and I worked my way up to a good paying job by working hard. Welfare is a hand up people not a hand out and this attitude that we OWE people is a crock. I would work as a greeter at walmart if it meant providing for my kids. Go ahead and go move to another country and try to live off of their system....they won't be so willing but yet we are expected to save the universe. I am getting sick and tired of it.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  28. Peter Amherst

    For those who say "Are we going to turn our backs on poor little Carlos"?
    you are a bunch of hypocrites. I don't see YOU sending his family money, or opening the door to YOUR home for his family to move in. Put your money where your mouth is. If you care so much, why don't YOU go ahead and offer all your own "free" services. Don't speak for me...I'm a U.S. taxpaying citizen who has always played by the laws that exist in this country. I have no sympathy for anybody here illegally.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  29. Mojga

    Such a shame!
    Carlos seems to be a cute and very intelligent child.
    I have no doubt if he was raised in a culturally and financially suitable environment, he would be very successful.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  30. stop2think

    Wait, I as a taxpayer have to foot the bill for a kid who is anxious about his PARENTS' arguing? You're kidding me right? This is why insurance is so expensive because what was once thought of as normal childhood (daydreaming and rammy) is now considered a treatable medical condition. ENOUGH! You cannot afford insurance for you own kid, sorry don't look to the government for help. I am sick and tired to having my wages ripped from me to pay for others who claims they cannot afford it. GET A JOB AND LEAVE ME ALONE.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  31. Heriberto

    I am shocked by some of the ignorant comments. What makes some of you think that these individuals are not US residents?

    We need to address the bigger question...How do we begin to address the mental health concerns of our children? Whether they are triggered by systematic failures such as schools or by dysfunctional families...

    If ignored, it will be your problem as a taxpayer.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  32. AdoptiveFather, Los Angeles CA

    Leave Carlos alone!!

    He wants to grow up and be a murderous drug dealer like the rest of his homies.

    Parents no where to be found.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  33. Tired of the entitled

    What's with the threat from so many? You better take care of him now, because if you don't, we're going to pay for him later. Is that along the lines of, I better give him every desire he wants because if I don't, he going to become a thief and steal everything we don't hand over to him. This sounds like Chicago thug politics to me.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  34. Jessy

    So I understand people saying that it is the parents fault and that they just need to get off of their lazy butt and get a job. And yes it is a parents responsibility to protect and raise their children to the best of their ability but tell me this. Because of this childs parents living in these conditions whatever the reasons may be they are hurting their child. Their child has no control over what is going on in his life. He is helpless. At the mercy of his parents. So this is the way that the child is going to grow up. And than when this child is their age and is the parent himself people are going to be saying the exact same thing about him. That he needs to stop being lazy and get a job and take care of his kids. That his life is completely under his control and that he can make of it whatever he wants. me there just seems to be a peice of the puzzle missing there.This is the way that he was raised this is the way that he knows in some sense where he is in life now was not his choice but a consequence of his life. Something needs to be done to help the children. The helpless ones whose life is in the control of someone else. The pattern needs to be broken. All the crap about it not being peoples problem and that it's the parents responsibility to take care of the child needs to stop. If that's the way things are going to be nothing is ever going to change. People need to take a little time to care. To try and break out of their own egocentric prediciment and realize that not everyone has had the opportunities in life that they have. All of peoples opinions are based off of what they have learned in life. So how about kids like Carlos? They are learning that no one gives a crap about them to help him. He is under everyone else. You want there to stop being people like Carlos's parents around, than do somethings to break the pattern or else it will just keep going on and on.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  35. Emily

    Hmmm... the kid with violent parents has anxiety problens... I wonder why. Sounds like its not his problem, but his families.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  36. Airic

    Sadly he and his family and unskilled immigrates and bring little if anything to the table other than cheap labor, people like this just bring our country down, they will kill socialize medicine and are the reason why 50% of the country doesn't want to support the the plan…these people are the problem!!!

    March 8, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  37. Steve

    DLISSH... if we honored our own laws, we would not have this problem. Illegal alien still is illegal. Why do we finance their medical? At what point are the rest of us too broke to finance the rest of the world? We are at that point now. -- unless of course you are not personally. Then, please adopt my family and I. - Our money it says In God We Trust. Government is there to organize and protect, not finance and provide. Yet Obama will not acknowledge that.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  38. Bebee

    Wooow here we have an 8 yr kid still a kid that needs some type of medical attention and we are complaining that "WE" taxpayers should not be paying. So what about the "CRIMINALS in the prison system why should we be paying for there medical bills and there education.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  39. Educator with common sense

    Here is a way the lawmakers can solve the problem. Make everyone receiving any type of government assistance take mandatory drug tests. Do away with excessive IEP's and go back to the old Advanced classes, college prep, general and basic. It is up to Carlos to hang out with appropriate students that are positive examples, he obviously isn't getting much help at home. The reality is if Carlos wants to make it he can.

    Stop making the government accountable for abusing government programs. We have gave the governent too much money and they continually waste it.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  40. jonny99

    To those who waste space complaining that this is the parents' responsibility, perhaps you can enlighten us as to how you will mandate that parents produce functional, productive, safe members of society. Most likely, you don't want to live in a society that mandates child-rearing guidelines. The answer then is public education/healthcare. Ensuring that children in this country grow up to be adjusted, law-abiding citizens is a *public* concern. You can spend tax dollars on education now or spend it on police and incarceration later.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  41. Mike

    LOOK PEOPLE – We all cant have good jobs with benefits and live in the burbs it is not possible. If we all had good jobs (which there are not enough to go around even if you have a good education) and a nice house who would clean our streets, stock shelves pick crops and do all the jobs that people who make a good salary and have good benefits wont do? Who will work at Walmart or pick up the trash or drive the bus? Who will pay those people a living wage and give them health care? Not business owners because that wont maximize their bottom line and it wont give you sitting behind a desk that bonus you want will it. PEOPLE YOU HAVE TO THINK BEFORE YOU SPOUT FOX NEWS LIKE NONSENSE – JUST THINK

    March 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  42. Becca

    This is a sad story for the child that is! And I too am wondering if they are US citizens? I do know I had worked about 33 years and then I have gotten very ill to the point I had gotten fired from a job that i was told I did very well on that is til I got sick. I had surgery as I had lost the blood to both legs and I am a diabetic as well as so much other stuff wrong. I was not able to tell my job when I'd be back to work as I had gotten an infection and the stitches had to be taken out an a nurse had to come the my house and clean and pack every day. My husband had retired and worked a full time job after retiring then he became really ill too and now he can not work any more either. ON top of it all we have our regular monthley bills to pay and now there are Doctor Bills for him as well as me now. He is not old enough for medicare yet and has no Doctor coverage at all on his insurance. SO we have a ton of Doctors to pay each month plus hospital Bills and we are told me make too much money to get any help. Well it is not taken into consideration that you made it before with the usual monthly Bills but with all the Doctor Bills now added on and hospital Bills there is not enough money to go around. We were fine before all the medical Bills but now once they were added to the monthly Bills we can not pay all of them for 2 people. SO my self I can not feel sorry for anyone else. I do not have to worry about anything being taken from me as I do not get anything and we are told that we are not on the below poverty list. We just make a little too much. SO inother words you do not get help unless you are on welfare. WE do not live in any expensive house either it is a older home but we have to be out onthe street before we can get help I guess. This is all so sad how we have to live in america! That is if we are americans. And we are Americans here for sure and we were born in America as well.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  43. Heather

    Sometimes I think my husband and I should just quit our jobs and let the government take care of us and our 2 kids. I have a son with ADHD and our health insurance doesn't cover his therapy or his medication. Guess what..we have to pay for it out of our pockets. $146 a month for medication and $60 a month for therapy.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  44. Jannette

    WHERE in the story does it read he or his parents are illegal immigrants???? Or that he or his parents are immigrants AT ALL?????? Or are you people assuming this because his name is Carlos?

    March 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  45. barbara

    i am add and i slip through the crack. I am 52 years old and need help bad. My insurance do not cover my help and i paid well over a 100.00 dollars a week for insurance. Insurance company is a rep off.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  46. Bob

    Jman, the policy that hurts CA is that we get $.79 back for every dollar we send to DC. States like Alabama, Arkansas, and Alaska get more than $1.50 back for every dollar they send. Our problem is that CA pays the Federal Welfare handed out to the states that can't pay their own way. We have money for our citizens, it goes to knuckle-dragging Christian conservative states that criticize us for not being able to balance our budgets. When they threaten to secede, I cheer them on.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  47. Tired of the entitled

    Didn't take long for them to throw out the race card, did it. Sorry, doesn't work here in California and especially in LA. There are more Hispanics than "whites" here. Hmmm, wonder how that happened? Let's see, illegal immigration and child after child being born to those that don't support themselves. Actually, if Carlos was white and an anchor baby born here by illegal "white" people, I would feel the same.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  48. Doug

    It's the parents responsibility to take care of the children, not the state or federal government. The author states that essentially the state "controls" this little boy. How sad is that. California lawmakers cannot balance there own budget, but yet they have great health care. Is that fair? Bottom line these parents need to get jobs, or move to where the jobs are. Are they illegal immigrants? Do they have faith? Extended family? Seems like a story that wants to tug at our hearts, but it does not haver to happen, but it did for many reasons mainly the folks who tax payers hired....the lawmakers who "control": this advice get out of california and take charge of your life and be somebody, don't wait for somebody to make decisions for you, because your best interest is probably not on the agenda.....greed and political gain is. We will pray for Carlos.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  49. Linsey

    Sorry but I have trouble being sympathetic. Some people refuse to help themselves and I presently live in a state that is probably getting ready to undergo 30% budget cuts for higher education of the state's university system. Students who are TRYING to do the right things with their lives are having programs cut out from under them. There may be 4000+ jobs lost. And I am supposed to think this story is the priority? C'mon CNN, I'm no right winger and this angers me.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
  50. Stephanie

    I'm tired of people saying, "this is America, where you pull yourselves up by your bootstrings." Or another favorite of the GOP, "where you find yourselves a private charity to help you." Tell me how a child like Carlos is supposed to find someone to help him or the inner power to overcome his situation?

    Tristan has it right. "Capitalism kills kids, and others who don't happen to be born lucky. This is not news. Why do we put up with it? That may be news."

    Until we figure out why we no longer care about the most unfortunate among us, this country will continue to head in the wrong direction.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
  51. M.C

    I'm a single mom who get's nothing back at the beginning of the year because "I've already made too much". I'm talking about no child support, Medical Assistance, Food Share, nothing. It's a struggle, but I've learned to manage. Now $7000.00 is taken out each year for taxes from my pay checks and it makes me wonder if the government is distributing my hard earned money correctly. It is very frustrating to hear such issues arising. What are we doing so wrong?

    March 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
  52. mgomez

    I have a child that has ADHD and ODS. This story hits home in so may ways. My husband and I are working parents and I have my child under my benefits.

    To have a child with ADHD is a disability to the child. It's hard to learn how to deal with a child with ADHD. You are constently on your toes in regards to medical treatment and school.

    I do agree that teachers are not there to babysit but they are there to make sure the kid gets a good education and no child is left behind. I had to fight with my child school to make sure that proper education was set for my child. My child was either sent to the office or suspended for disrupting the class. My teacher wasn't willing to work with my child. I had to go through meetings with Assistant principal's, counselors and physologist. This year my daughter has a teacher that is willing to work with her. They were able to run tests for my child to determine what type of help my child is needing. They also recognize my childs issues.

    I also agree the parents have to take responsibility for themselves. I can't rely on the state to provide for my kids. Having kids with this type of disability takes a toll on the kids as well as the parent. As a parent with a child with ADHD I highly suggest for the kid parents to get counseling and try to stay on top of there kid school. Come with some type of agreement with the teacher making sure they have some type of behavioral plan for the boy. They sold also try to start looking for a job. They have to start some where.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  53. Matt

    I'm a fellow teacher, but I must say that it is sad to read stories like this. This child is the one suffering when his parents made bad choices. Also, when did it become the responsibilty of the state to take care of everyone.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  54. eandw

    To Steve
    As an after thought, how do you know where you tax dollars are going to? Because as a taxpayer myself, it has never been explained where exactly my tax dollars are going, please enlighten the rest of us taxpayers where exactly our tax dollars are going to...because they never told me, whether road construction, construction. prisons, state health services, or state run please let me know how you know?

    March 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  55. JIm

    If you truly believe more should be done to help, then get a second job and pay more taxes. Odds are this family is here illegally, enough with the free handouts if you cannot support a family do not have one.

    Many people do not want to hold the parents accountable, but they have no problem laying the problem at the feet of the tax payer. My guess is these are the people receiving public assistance and demand more.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  56. Rush is to far left

    Lana March 8th, 2010 1:04 pm ET

    Wow. I had no idea my fellow countrymen were so heartless. It doesn't matter if "his parents should get a job" or "stop fighting". And no one would even wonder about his "immigration status" if he was lighter skinned. What matters is that he exists. Carlos. Are we as a society so uncaring that all that matters to us is money? Our taxes being used for a child of parents that maybe should be helping themselves? Are we going to turn our backs on him? Really?
    Yep. The immigration status makes a difference. And it is the fault of the government that we feel that way about it. I did not grow up prejudiced against any person, however having such things thrown in our face daily tends to harden a person in these types of cases.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  57. Steve

    After watching this on TV, my first response is; no wonder the kid has problems... the parents have problems. The father is an alcoholic.
    Second response: Go back to where you came from and see if they can do better. Since you no speaka da englisch, you are obviously not a local. You might (probably) be an illegal. Go back.
    After this episode, then CNN shows how bad Miami hospitals have it. When are we going to wake up and realize that our pockets are empty! You cannot finance people who cannot finance themselves. This is not a welfare state. Sorry. It's a harsh word. Its a harsh world.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  58. Mark in Southern California

    You know, why is it we give so much to un-documented persons and leave the tax paying legal persons to suffer? I'm 46 yo, I'm on SSDI because of a broken back and neck. I get $660.00 a month to live on. My daughter is also ADHD and autistic and I get NO HELP from the state except food stamps which are not enough. I lost my house, my wife and my dignity. I'm suffering while the un-documented people get food stamps, cash assistance, Medical and more. They even get car loans and cell phones without a credit check and no social security number. Now they want to let them vote?!?!? We spend WAY too much stupid things an not enough on what matters. Cal Trans for instance, they suck more money out of the state when private contractors could do it for less, better and faster. I feel sorry for people period but I can't feel sorry for the un-documented people anymore. They get more and we get the bill. Try this on for size, now, California passed a law allowing them to attach MediCal recipients and other state assistance but guess what, the un-documented people won't get held accountable because that's the wonder of them, they just go back across the border or change identities. We, the lawful residents, get attached, even in death, and then our families get the burden.
    Why do you feel like we owe them? They send their earnings back home which aids their country's economy while ours takes the hit and the lawful citizens suffer. The only right to be in America is through LEGAL IMMIGRATION. This is for a reason. It allows us to make sure that the economy will not suffer from overloading. We have an overloaded economy and as long as the un-documented people are allowed to stay and suck up resources, the more legal and now the illegal people will suffer. They are now starting to feel the pinch MANY of us have felt YEARS ago. So now we cry for them and not our own? It's pathetic how we give and give to Haiti, Africa, etc and un-documented people but won't help our own. We are becoming a third world country. Look at us falling apart. Look at the ignorance in our government. We suffer from job losses and all the focus on is health care reform. Give it a rest. Fix the economy, Fix America, then we can figure out the rest. Tax all the outsourcing. Make it so costly to outsource so that they keep the jobs here. Do something other then trying to find a loop hole to get your way.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  59. Alvin BInion

    This is a sad story but so often this is a repetative many children have the same situation....state budgets are strained all across the country..issue Carlos is facing are caused obviously by his situation at home...Carlos is the victim in this case and needs help...but our society is deciding that since it Carlos parents fault that there nothing they should do for Carlos...that is until this boy either walks into a class room with a shot gun a kills other students or attempts to end his own life...prevention is the key not neglect.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  60. Jim Walker

    Just a few points: First, whether Carlos and his family are citizens is a legitimate question, one that the authors of this story ought to have predicted would occur in the readers' minds. Tax dollars should not be spent to provide long-term treatments to persons who are not citizens. Second, the parents bear the greatest responsibility here. There are jobs available, they may not be great jobs, but any work is honorable work and unemployed persons should be willing to accept it. Third, "Bill" posted a comment suggesting we round all up all the illegals and send them home. This is not necessary. All that needs to be done is to make knowlingly hiring illegals a felony and then begin arresting and imprisoning persons who do it. 3-5 years in prison will convince most employers of illegals not to do it. Then, when the jobs dry up, non-citizens will go back home where they can begin to help improve their native lands. Good luck to Carlos.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  61. FixLosAngeles

    Carlos is an example of 95% of those in South LA. He is one of 100,000+ that share a similar story. The schools and communities are inundated with these types. The teachers are too young and still have accents. The culture there approves of drinking, i.e. kids are brought up at a very young age, going to family get togethers till 2 in the morning, where its ok to drink all the time and be rowdy. You can see these kids at the local markets, you know, the kids that scream at the top of their lungs and run around without any parental guidance. These are the kids that have no manners, that lie and cheat, because they see mommy and daddy and most of their neighbors doing it. It is a cultural problem. Their culture is incompatible with more civilized cultures surrounding them.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  62. Polman

    In the old times so called "ADHD" was simply unknown.
    The pharmaceutical companies and doctors invented this kind of illness so they could make a lot on money.
    The old recipe to heal a person was "proper discipline" at school, if this didn't help usually 1-2 years spent at army was a "miracle cure".
    The cost was $0 , now we are talking thousands of $$$ per person. A person should be adjusted to live in a community.
    If we are going to pay with tax money for each person that want to live according to “imaginary” illnesses,
    no wonder we have so many problems in this country and going bankrupt...

    March 8, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  63. John

    I'm surprised that the teachers involved are not looking at adaptive learning response techniques, i.e., hiring qualified special ed teachers locally who can meet with parents, and students such as Carlos, and develop a plan of action for his anxiety. Touch and go techniques seem out of place in a situation such as his, and perhaps many children who also suffer from certain situational anxieties.

    In terms of monies, I have found in the past that community support networks can help temporarily, but a State budget impasse is not forever and immediate needs monies can also be made available from churches, synagogues, (sometimes mosques) and even from federal government sources after paperwork filing and check distribution. (Please feel free to check about that, if there is an available address location or an online .gov. office nearby).

    Otherwise, where is the problem? He’s in school, probably in a special ed class, and doesn’t require immediate medical care.

    Social Security benefits are not even appropriate if he is otherwise a healthy young man. His parents, if they are not working, are still the expected providers. If they need benefits from AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children, California) then he’s eligible, as are they.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  64. scott in Los Angeles

    While the issue of ADHAD, ADD, Autism, etc care is a large one I have to agree with Bill's comments and solutions regarding immigration in this particular case. As a heard working taxpayer I see, on a daily basis, my tax dollars going to provide services for those here illegally and their offspring.
    Ammend the Constitution so that citizenship is not "granted" just becasue you were born here but that you are born to at least on LEGAL citizen of the US.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  65. bjb

    Both my husband and I have ADHD; we have successfully raised both our ADHD children to become PRODUCTIVE members of society. My husband holds a Doctorate degree and our son is in grad school. Our children's usuage of ADHD medication was minimal but necessary until they matured to the point of developing self discipline and coping mechanisms of their own. We purchased health insurance like responsible citizens and gladly paid our deductibles and co-payments, never depending on public health for free handouts. While we do not know of Carlos' situation first hand, I'd bet that until his parents are able to fully comprehend the complexities of ADHD (maybe they never will), that nothing will sufficiently remediate his condition, no matter how much public funds are spent on him. If his parents can read, there is a great amount of valuable information available to help. Until the parents step up to the plate and take appropriate action, it's futile to think that throwing more public assistance at the problem will make it better.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  66. Mike_T

    To aew. If anyone needs to recognize that Carlos is here, it's his parents first. Not the state of California. The immigration status of Carlo's family is a another discussion I agree, but it is relative. I don't mean that in terms of Carlos's family but in terms of so many immigrants needing taxpayer assistance. The taxpayer funded system is being drained by everyone (not just immigrants) but what still remains are the children slipping through the cracks. The image that I get from this article is the one of his parents being the problem or at least, part of the problem. This kid is drawing pictures of his parents fighting in his sessions with the mental worker. I don't have a degree in pyschology, but uh hello, it seems that pushback is needed on the parents here. Stop the drinking, stop the fighting and stop blaming the taxpayer for Carlos's issues. Get a job, pay for your benefits and get Carlos the help he really needs. Is that heartless? No because the responsibility has to start with Carlos's parents. Carlos should not be the poster boy for free clinics, I've heard worst stories where the parents had done everything for the sake of their child. I don't get that intepretation from this article.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
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