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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.

8-year-old Carlos is at the mercy of California lawmakers who control the state's budget and, in some way, his future.

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. Mary

    This is a little boy who needs help. He needs consistancy in his life on a daily basis. He needs an understanding teaching who needs to spend just a little more time with him. He needs to know that someone cares for him. His anxiety will only get worse and he anger will start to display it self when it is least expected. Doesn't matter if his parents are legal or not, he didn't aske for this type of life. He will end up in a situation that his family is if he can't get the education he needs to be able to get a job. America gives all kinds of help to the world when a diaster happens, and hopefully these people are grateful, but situations at home are left on the back burner. It isn't responsability of rich actor, producers etc. but if they can help others why can't they help at home.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  2. CC

    California's budget is like a third world country. Of all the programs they are cutting I dont hear about any cuts for money funding Illegal Immigrants. They dont seem to care but then why should the other states and federal government be trying to bail them out.

    Everybody agrees there is a need for health care reform but the question is at what cost and who is going to pay for me.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  3. Isabelle greenberg

    No one works in that family??? Give me a break. They're all burdens on the taxpayer. I'm sorry for this kid but it's entirely his parents' fault. What exactly are they doing all day...watching TV. I intend to work until I'm 65 to make sure I have a good pension and am able to survive without anyone's help. No one gave me that job by the way. I earned it. I have a graduate degree in biochemistry and that's what allows me to have a good job with a good pension. I'm sick and tired of people telling their sob stories and expecting handouts from the working people. Go get a job cleaning homes...offices...whatever it takes to take care of your kids and yourself.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  4. Travis Russell

    Im sorry, I am all for figuring out a functional health care platform and reforming a broken system, but CNN really missed the ball on this article if it was meant to pull at the heartstrings of those less aware of our broken system.

    First, I feel bad for Carlos. But anxiety is a behavioral issue that is often created due to environmental factors. Fighting parents, an alcoholic father (And YES, if your 2nd grader knows you drink, you have a drinking problem DAD.) and whatever else the parents aren't telling CNN are the cause of this.

    Second, ADHD is such a overused, over diagnosed condition. Here's some reality on that issue; So many of my friends are on ADHD medication and guess what? They dont need it and often use it for studying for tests or going out. Of course, their parents led them down the path to get medication because they were wild, unfocused, erratic kids.

    My guess is they were kids and their parents didn't do the "best" job teaching them how to function in public or at school or at home. My friends are great guys btw.

    Rant is done. I feel bad for Carlos, lets get things fixed, but there are far worse situations going on that are about HEALTH CARE, rather than an unfortunate family/living situation. To Carlos's MOM and DAD; Get it together.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  5. Matt

    Free clinic?? Nothing is free. Free to him maybe but the working people are paying for it. If liberals continue on this "save the world" attitude, we are doomed.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
  6. kyle

    Domestic abuse, unemployment and heavy drinking? Sounds like this is the parents fault... Why should I have to pay the kid's health care?

    March 8, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
  7. Ray Rijkse

    As a parent of an ADHD child who also suffered from Anxiety Disorder, I'm quite sympathetic however, parents must take ownership of their child(ren)'s medical needs without high expectations that everything will be free even though many are considered low-budget income families. This is part of taking on the responsibility as parents.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
  8. Jack in CA

    This story dishonestly sidesteps the legal status of Carlos and his family, which make me assume they are in the United States illegally. There are plenty of legal California residents that I have a lot more sympathy for. If Carlos and his family had not come over illegally from Mexico, California wouldn't have to deal with their problems. Why should California taxpayers have to pay for illegal aliens?

    March 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  9. Matt

    We cant save everyone. His parents are unemployed? There are thousands of jobs out there but the problem is people dont want to do things that are physical or difficult.
    And I still dont think it is fair that the hard working people pay for these scumbags.
    We all have to figure out a way to make our lives better and cannot just sit back unemployed and wait for someone to help. This family is a cancer to our society waiting on a handout because they are lazy. More liberals plugging up the system.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  10. Mo

    No I have to comment further. Carlos was brought into this world by is Mother with the aid of his Father. Carlos was diagnosed with many maladies brought on by stress. Why are his parents looking for GOVERNMENT/TAXPAYER assistance when they are 85% probably the cause of many of his issues? Why if his Father is known to drink and become abusive is he allowed to stay in the home?

    March 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  11. NJ arthur

    Those who receives government handouts should be ashamed of themselves. Even the mere thought of wanting them is a shame.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  12. Steve

    Filks, this story is here to hit your hot buttons.
    Beg for health care reform so big pharma can keep Carlos well drugged
    on speed, thanks to the taxpayer. ADHD is so over diagnosed.

    And as if the government cared they might trim the war budget to fund schools, but that would get in the way of all the peace and democracy we are bringing to the middle east.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  13. lupe

    Millions of illegals in Cali probably feel bad about themselves. Should we write a million sob stories for each illegal?

    March 8, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  14. Debbie from CA

    In CA one major reason we need health-care reform would be for children like Carlos and others. We draw on the education $$ for children like Carlos vs the health care system because so many lack insurance. ADHD is not an education problem it is a health-care problem. But the cost of insurance in CA is prohibitive. The problem grows as programs are cut. If Carlos turns to drugs he will have to get into the jail system for care vs drug rehab as there is no healthcare system. If Carlos manages to not get into the jail system he will ultimately end up on public assistance which is now being cut. Each system education, public assistance runs out of money and cannot serve their original purpose. It all goes back to the health-care issue.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  15. Nick Mann

    Carols and his mother can always move to Cuba or Canada. According to Michael Moore, they have superior medical care and everything is "Free".

    March 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  16. melindawhoa

    illegal immigrant or not, this is a young boy who needs help. How disgusting it is to see all you people say, "oh another case of illegal immigrants." These are PEOPLE. Do you know how hard it is to get a green card here? We are willing to spend millions of dollars helping out other countries but when it comes to our own we can't own up.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  17. Merle

    The government is not responsible to clean up family messes. The parents control their own destiny in a country where the rigth drive and ethics can lead to a very comfortable life.
    His healthcare is, and always has been, the responsibility of his parents.
    Is the purpose of this story to make people feel bad for him, and have the reader support government healthcare/welfare ???
    The question really is: how did the state become broke to begin with? It is becasue of this "services" and welfare entitlements that do not intice poor individuals to work for a living. this is what happens.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  18. Imfromtexas

    Also I like how so many people here assume that because his parents can't afford insurance, it must be their fault. With unemployment in California around 14%, why do people assume that someone is to blame? Also i'm sorry that so many people feel that taking care of the helpless isn't a human duty, but in a country this selfish it really isn't a surprise.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  19. SanAnton

    Carlos is paying the price for decades of mismanagement by the California legislature. They have driven the state into the toilet, that's why I left it.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  20. Daniel

    I have an excellent idea here!Why don't we just stop fighting these dispicable wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan and use that money to help Carlos and others like him???But I guess that the right-wing thug burocrats in Washington D.C. won't stand for it since they desperately need the money to kill people.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  21. Marisa

    United States is the land of opportunity. It is not the land of I'll sit on my lazy butt and do nothing while others pay for me and my children.

    These parents need to stop being ENTITLED and start working. Get a job, get three jobs and then and only then should your fellow community help a family.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  22. judge-like

    Society needs more humility! To those that blame the parents I would like to present the argument that the parents themselfs are just like children. Only at one point they moved from being the children of their parents to the children of the system. The system causes many to be unemployed and neglected. Many people fall victim to being just a plain worker at challengin times. Are we to blame people for remaining plain workers? No. We should blame the people who support the poorly trained politicians that at the driving seat. We need real chnage and reform of society!

    March 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  23. RG

    I hope all these folks here telling Carlos' parents to "just get a job" won't mind when Carlos grows up and robs them. Ya gets what ya pays for. Just hope he doesn't kill you too, as you've taught him to have little regard for human life.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  24. JIm

    First of all the tax payer is not the solution to every problem. Free handouts are the problem, we have become a nation of entitlements, you do not have to go to work, you dont have to finish school just stay home have babies and the people dumb enough to go to work or too proud to take handouts will pay for your every need.

    There is no incentive to work, you get far better services and benefits on public assistance than you would if you went to work. The health industry puts a name on every behavior and if the tax payer will fork out billions of dollars they can fix it. Teachers too ask for more money every year, give us more and we can do better is the promise, but each year it gets worse.

    Stop the entitlements, get a job and provide for your own family. If you cannot afford a family, do not have one. If you are dumb enough to have a child you cannot support blame yourself, but do not ask your neighbor going to work to pay for your childs needs.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  25. Dizzy

    Rich or poor, children and adults living with combatative alcoholic family members are likely to experience anxiety. No mysteries here. Fix or get rid of the problem person, the alcoholic. Is the street value of the taxpayer funded ADHD drugs meant for the kid worth allowing a child to grow up thinking he is the problem?

    March 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  26. BILL

    the problem is not underfunding.
    the problem is adults that bring children into the world that they cant support when they cant even support themselves

    March 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
  27. Imfromtexas

    Funny how CNN didn't run this story when Texas' governor Perry cut CHIP and ended any state funding for all Texas children whose parents couldn't afford it. Why is this news now CNN, Perry did that without Texas even being in a recession!

    March 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
  28. mjh

    The arrogance and ignorance of these responses is absolutely toxic.

    I too have the convenience to throw down some worthless diatribe via a CNN comment page...that simple act of convenience already indicates that the people posting here have ways and means already afforded them.

    That said; it is always easier to point fingers and shame others from the greener side. Shame on all you uncaring, ungrateful American citizens!

    March 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
  29. capnmike

    Yet another example of why people should have to have a license to have children.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  30. J

    @Linda C
    Why in the heck do you ask if they are citizens? just because they look latin, are you stupid?
    If you can't make an intelligent comment, then don't make one at all.

    "Are these people citizens of the U.S.?" Omg, seriously you're dumb

    March 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  31. DW

    As much as I sympathize with the plight of Carlos a point is still missing. How did caring for the youth become a responsibility of the government? I don't mind the government helping when citizens are in trouble but the operative word is help not do everything. If anyone is going to have children, they first should be responsible and make sure they can provide which includes having a way to insure them. I do take in count that things change which alter even the best of plans but somehow things are now upside down where health care is now a public right. Then who is suppose to pay for it if the parents have no plans or resources. Somehow common sense needs to come in where the beneficiaries have to pay something and quit taking the Government for granted. All this article is doing is bringing out the violins when the government doesn't have the money to take care of a child which ultimately is suppose to be the parent's responsibility. Have Carlo's parents looked for other opportunities such as being they are unemployed of actually learning how to perform as much of the therapy they can themselves. It sounds like in some ways they are the cause. If Carlos if falling through the cracks, it may be the cracks of parental responsibility. I think this article was expect to show how the government is failing but is really showing how the parents are.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  32. Kim

    So very sad–this child is a victim of many failures–his parents (99% of the blame), the school and the state where he lives. In Maryland, where I live, there is a program offered by Social Services called Family Preservation (intensive IN HOME therapy where the entire family is involved). Wonder if there is anything like that in California? Wouldn't cost the parents anything–and there is a social worker involved who could be keeping a close eye on things and his safety. Another idea–what about a school counselor? Again, no cost to the child. There has to be alternatives...somewhere. I'm shocked a school counselor has not reported the craziness going on in that house and someone isn't more involved?? This little boy is our future–someone needs to be looking out for him!! Obviously, his parents aren't doing a very good job!!

    March 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
  33. R in Reno

    It's pretty clear from the comments on this article that Greed has replaced Jesus as the offcial symbol of many (alleged) Christians. From love and compassion towards the downtrodden, the prevalent now seems to be "I've got mine, so to hell with anything or anyone that doesn't get me more". These people had better hope that God isn't real, or they are going to have some uncomfortable explaining to do.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  34. Kat

    This is a travesty and I see more than a single problem here. Not only is care for Carlos being threatened, but the educational system is ready to write him off. My son, with anxiety and a learning disorder that would probably be today diagnosed as a type of autism disorder faced the same rejection by a tenured first grade teacher who was not interested in reaching "problem" students. We fought this issue throughout his unfinished school career; special education and in-school help was of some help but presented stigmas. At 16 he gave up the fight and so did I – I had to make a living not sit in a classroom doing the job tax dollars were supposed to be paying to be done. The educational system must commit to ensuring teachers are trained to recognize and properly refer emotionally or learning disabled students rather than trash them to save their ratings. Meanwhile, funding for care must continue because privately obtaining it is prohibitive. These are kids who can be productive adults if helped to overcome their issues. Good luck to Carlos and his mother.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  35. Sue

    Okay, let me get this straight, the Father drinks and the parents argue until the son is riddled with anxiety. and this is our problem?
    Dysfunctional family, we all grew up in one, tell the parents to get it together.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  36. Shel

    The rich people including actors and directors etc of California should be paying more so this kid gets help? Are you SERIOUS??? Why is it their responsibility to take care of other people's problems? It's outrageous that because someone has worked hard and achieved financial success that they should be punished for it. Yes, I said punished. That's exactly what is happening in this country. The rich are getting poor and the poor are sitting with their hands out expecting someone else to take care of what they should be taking care of themselves. Pathetic.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  37. Andrew

    Maybe instead of running a front page story of the troubles in the life of Carlos, CNN should pool its resources to help Carlos and his family instead of waiting for government to do it. What can Ted Turner do for you?

    March 8, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
  38. jana

    Is he and his parents citizens of the USA

    If so we should help, If his parents are not they are the ones at fault.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
  39. tj

    The kid obviously has bad parents. The kid has a bum deal but this is not something that needs to be broadcasted. There are more important things to focus on.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
  40. KBA

    What is wrong with this scenario? I totally agree with Dom. All the therapy and all the medications in the world are not going to help this child. His parents need therapy. They need to get off their butts, get a job and stop fighting with each other. They are the entire reason their child is acting out and they are the reason for his anxiety. Shame on them! This mother is blaming everyone except the two people who are responsible for Carlos's troubles – Mom and Dad! Maybe CPS should step in and remove him from that toxic environment. Drugs and therapy are pointless until he's out of there.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  41. WhatTheHuh

    first of all, children who witness fights between intoxicated adults are psychologically affected, and those effects manifest themselves in ways such as negative, risky or attention seeking behavior, self-injurious behavior, and physical aggression. i would be shocked if this child's only issue is that of adhd. simply put, this child is a mess at the hands of his parents and his homelife. this is an 8 year old whose father gets drunk and fights with [him]? (and he's unemployed? uh, yeah-its hard to work when you are plastered all the time.) these parents cannot afford these children, and should not have had them. the kids should be raised by someone who can provide for them financially, and not play the 'wheel of fortune' game as to whether or not mental health needs will be met. people need to wake up and understand that if you cannot afford something, you do without it. in this case, they should have done without the kids.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  42. ortiz

    The mother said she did not know how to modify his behavior. Are you kidding? She needs to modify her behavior and get her marriage in order or leave her alcoholic husband. The poor child is obviously being affected by his parents constant fighting and his father's alchohol problem. He has behavior problems & anxiety because he has an inadequet homelife. "They're unemployed, uninsured & barely scraping by", who wouldn't be stressed out. That is alot for a little child to worry about, I feel sorry for him. His mother should be looking into programs on how to be a better parent. If they are not any available then she should take her poor excuse for a parent to the library and pick up a book. I hope she has her tubes tied so she doesnt bring anymore children into the world to suffer!

    March 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
  43. Lisa Fitzgerald

    Even with so-called "health insurance" for which we pay $1,000 per month (and both parents well-educated and working full-time at well-paying jobs), we struggle to get the help we need for our two children with special needs. But I can only imagine the awful cycle that mother is trying to escape so I applaud her seeking help for her son so that he doesn't become another bad statistic. It takes a village whether we like to think so or not.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
  44. Karen

    WOW. I HAVE NEVER READ SO MANY HEARTLESS RESPONSES TO SUCH A SAD STORY. DO NOT BLAME CARLOS OR HIS PARENTS. THE OVERALL SYSTEM IS TO BLAME. IT IS OUR RESPONSIBIILTY TO TAKE CARE OF OUR FELLOW HUMAN BEING– BROTHERS AND SISTERS.

    CARLOS DESERVES CARE. BOTTOM LINE. IF YOU THINK you DESERVE CARE, THEN WHY DOESN'T HE? ARE YOU WORTH MORE THAN HIM AND HIS FAMILY? I THINK NOT.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
  45. STORYBURN

    State budgets are getting worse and I hope private aid steps in for these kids. This is why we can not be spending trillions on wars we can't win when we could be spending that money on protecting those without health insurance. We need job growth in the worst way.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
  46. photo girl AZ

    Without available, affordable health care the playing field is NOT level.
    Every American does NOT have an equal chance to " work hard, play by the rules and chase the American dream" We all start from a different place and need an equal chance to succeed.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  47. Nick

    Agreed, these people need to fix up their relationship with each other for the sake of their kid. He's obviously been deeply traumatized by his parents' fighting, as the article shows. It's not right to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for a family's internal failings. The right thing is for the adults in the family to straighten up.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  48. ICommonSense

    Hopefully this kid's parents wake up and get things on track. I don't know how people can blame the government for his parents laziness and lack of care for their child. As always, they represent more lazy americans looking for free handouts. Sad story, but its not the fault of the state.

    Maybe his parents and lazy jobless people like them should start taking responsibility for their own actions.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  49. guest

    Seems like Carlos main problem is at home. This may sound cruel but government can't help with everyone's problem. They already have medi-Cal therefore they are not uninsured. Parents stop flighting at home is the first step to help Carlos.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  50. Mo

    My 1 and only question.......why is this child allowed to remain in a toxic home?

    March 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  51. Maria

    This is a disaster for our nation. Prevantative care is far cheaper in the long run than is reactive care after a child or adult's suicide attempt. I am a mental health counselor, and I see this happen frequently. I cannot even gain employment at a community agency servicing low or no income clients, because those agencies are closed due to budget cuts. Wake up, Washington!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is the future of our nation, and it is a disgrace.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  52. SadState

    It's depressing to hear that we can not take care of our children. That we, as a country, can not take care of our sick and poor. Regardless of what political views people have, at the end of the day – we are human beings and each of us should be given a chance to live our lives to the fullest. Carlos' situation may seem minor, but if we don't treat him, and others with "minor" issues – we'll have larger issues to deal with years later, and probably when it will be too late. Probably when a young boy's youth is stolen. I'm sad....for such a great country – we continue to miss the mark. There should be health care for all. There should be more emphasis on our country and the needs of our country. How can we help others when we can't even help ourselves? I'm not saying to stop any assistance to others, but I would like to see more attention paid to everyone in our country. Especially our future.....and Carlos is part of that future.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  53. Steve

    If the parents really care about the kid, how about they find a job and stop fighting? What about Medicaid? We are struggling to take care of our families. How about other people step-up and start taking responsibility and take care of their family?

    March 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  54. GaryC

    50 Billion to General Motors, 180 Billion to AIG, 200 Billion to FannieMae.
    0 cents to Carlos
    The politicians have gone to far, this was the last straw. Now it is the rich versus the poor. We (the poor) need to organize to stop this!!!

    March 8, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  55. slappy

    Maybe Dad should quit drinking and the parents should stop fighting, that would improve things greatly. Dad could use the money he spends on booze to help his family. That's what's expected of parents, at least where I live. Time for parents to shape up and take care of their families, instead of bawling about the gov't failing them.
    Still trying to understand how these parents are unemployed when they have the time and money to lay around and drink and fight.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  56. caltaxpayer

    Before we can 'save Carlos' his mother needs to SAVE CARLOS. Sounds to me the State of California isn't letting Carlos down nearly as much as his mother. CA has an unsustainable gov't structure. There needs to be some serious reforms to the gov't Pensions and spending programs. When you have a world class University system where residents pay less than $11000/yr, and they still complain... the residents of CA are too used to having things easy on the backs of businesses. And we still haven't talked about the immigration issue siphoning money out of the system. When did CA become the Greece of the US? Reform now or pay later....

    March 8, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  57. Curt in NC

    And California wonders why it is in financial peril! Jeeze!
    Here is a novel idea, have people pay for their own stuff.
    Pay for their own housing, their own cars, their own cell phones, their own medical treatments. Carlos's story is sad, but it is NOT my responsibility to pay for his housing, mental health care, or medications. Don't have children if you aren't prepared to support them in the most difficult of situations. It's called responsibility!
    Curt in NC

    March 8, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  58. Julie

    This just breaks my heart as I have a son with ADHD and anxiety problems also. He is on medication and started getting therapy at the age of three. I have a state medical card for him also. I don't know what I would do if our state cut off his funding as I would have no way to pay for his medication which he needs to function. He has come a long ways since he was Carlos age though and now does well in school and gets along with others well too. If he hadn't gotten the help he needed, his rages were so violent he probably would have ended up in a mental health institution to live! Which is an extremely frightening though.

    If these children don't get the help they need at an early age they end up filling our prisons or at the least, not contributing to society..instead society has to help them to survive...no one wins in situations like this though. So many of the homeless, those who have felt rejected and been rejected by society were once children that didn't get the help they needed. I don't know what the answer is when the money isn't there...but I think the children, the disabled and the handicapped should be the last on the lists of budget cuts.

    Please keep us updated, CNN, on this little boys situation. Thanks.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  59. Laura

    Welcome to America!

    March 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  60. Papa_K

    I saw this, this morning. This is just one child who the Right Wing wants to leave behind. There are many many more.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  61. Dom

    Help for the kid? How about help for the parents...alcohol, fighting, verbal abuse and who knows if even physical abuse. The kid is a product of his parents. Yes, the kid needs help, but it starts with the parents and they need counseling, and also need to find a job, no matter how menial it may be.
    The focus of this story is Carlos and it unfortunately has a political tone to it; before the system failed Carlos, his parents failed him first.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  62. Jman

    If not for all the Liberal policies that have destroyed the state of California, this young man would not have this problem. It is a shame that CNN is a part of the game to destroy the entire Countries Health Care system for the minority of sad stories such as this one. A more prosperous Country would allow us to address the minority of issues such as this.
    Wake up and realize that taking over the Health System is more for power than for helping anyone.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
  63. Dan

    The federal government provides heaklth insurance for all children with a family income of less than $56k per year. This is not a government, nor health insurance, nor clinic issue. this is an issue where a child has stupid lazy parents who wont go get him insurance. SCHIP (signed by George Bush) provides health insurance to the majority of children in the country. No child has to go without unless their parents are lazy or cheap

    March 8, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
  64. optimistmiser

    The excessive spending to fullfill promises made by government officials that government could never honestly keep will add many more Carloses to the list of broken promises. This is how it must be for many decades into the future if states and America is really serious about avoiding a future economic collapse that would put all recipients of social programs and educational assistance abruptly out on their own.

    This is the price that must be payed for the political indescretions of politicians who have been more interested in getting elected than in keeping spending and spending obligations under control.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
  65. Russ

    I read all the time about kids like this and the difference is that there are some parents willing to go to the ends of the earth to help their kids and if you wait for someone else to do it, you will fall into the cracks. Parents are so quick to have their kids labeled with something because they think then he can be fixed. I just have to believe that these kids need help starting at home and the parents cannot sit and wait around for someone else to take care of their kids.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  66. daniela

    i think it's sad that there's many people out there who get helped by the goverment that don't even need the help but people like us and this little boy have to suffer and worried to see how we are going to deal with our health issues because the goverment won't help us but i will keep this kid in my prayers because i know what he is going through i have dealt with anxiety and it feels horrible and i had to trust god to heal me because i didn't have the money to go and get helped but i hope someone out there will help this kid

    March 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  67. Gordon

    It's important to note that, contrary to your headlines, the care he may need is not "his care' and the clinic is not "free". Carlos may have these issues, but governments at all levels need to get real in that they have no obligation, or funding, to proivde 'his care' and any 'free clinic". Care and clinics cost money, and the parents either need to get their act together to pay for the care that their child needs, or recognize and accept that Carlos will not get any care. Period.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
  68. mdyerson

    Do feel bad for the kid but I have a job, pay taxes, insurance premiums and still struggle to pay health care costs that are incurred by my family. So his fathers a big drinker and beats up the wife, does that make me responsible for his health care? I mean I would like to stay home and drink and do drugs all day but I know my bills wont be paid and I wont have nay food on the table. Bottom line get a job and take careof your family and quit depending on the government to do it!

    March 8, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  69. Emily Barlow

    Nobody commented on this story so I guess that shows how much our society cares about kids like Carlos. I just want to leave a comment to say that I care. I think its stupid to cut funding for desperately needed services like those that Carlos needs.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
  70. Trojan

    Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of healthcare budget cuts nor am I a fan of health insurance companies. But the parents need to get a job and stop getting drunk and fighting. Then they can complain about the budget cuts. There are just so many broken families that ruin their kids it is sad. Trust me I know. I worked everyday in South Los Angeles (South Central LA) and have personally seen all of the problems that go on there and a lot of them stem from broken families.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
  71. D

    Sounds like his parents are the ones that need free counseling. If they got jobs and stopped fighting in front of their kids maybe Carlos wouldn't need therapy.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
  72. prado

    California, a state with the richest people living there, should not have money problems!! But these rich actors and producers, directors, etc should be giving back. Especially to these types of programs that are facing severe cuts! Please can't one of you rich millionares donate money to help Carlos and others like him? Of course, the headlines would not be there as with stars donating to Haiti but still think about what good you can do at home.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
  73. gagirl01

    It is funny how all those actors and actresses "care" for everyone; yet, you don't even see them really taking care of their own state. I'm sure some do, but come on, do they really?

    March 8, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  74. ed

    so the taxpayers have to pay for carlos's parents fighting? and it's the teacher's fault that carlos's parents fight? talk about taking no responsibility.... geez...

    March 8, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  75. Mary T

    The money that was spent on the gift bags for the actors at the academy awards last night should be given to the clinics to help the poor in California.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  76. Tin

    Duh! Constant Family fight will effect kids. Don't fix him, fix his dad. Make him a real dad for change and everything else will fall in place.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  77. Tn gal

    I am glad that carlos has gotten help but I cant help to think that
    maybe this another example of illegal immigrants and their kids, could these parents give him the help he needs in their home country if indeed they are somewhere else. I doubt they could so here we go again, illegal immigrants draining US resources to the max and then noboby gets help, its; just simpy wrong!! First of all carlos's family is messed up so no wonder the kid has some troubles, family should fix their own problems first and i bet carlos would get better too, so ridiculous!! his father/mother fight etc. DUH! of course carlos has behavior problems don't need expnsive therapist to fugure that out!!

    March 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  78. DavidJ

    >Carlos lives with his sister and parents. They're unemployed, >uninsured and barely scraping by. Carlos tells Elena his dad used to >drink and that led to fighting between his mom and dad
    >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.

    This shows the group of people who are willing to blame social entitlement programs instead of even considering factors like parenting and home environment...things that need to happen inside a home to raise a kid.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  79. nathan

    Here is some therapy tell his parents to stop fighting and save us all a bunch of money.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  80. Brian

    Republicans would say – "Tough life"

    Their view is that healthcare is a privilege, not entitlement.

    Let the human being roll back to the animal world.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  81. Hannah

    This is happening all across the country. Our libraries are closing, senior centers, after school programs. Who is suffering? The poor and working class. Who is still benefiting, the wealthy. Our schools are crumbling, teachers taking pay cuts, class sizes getting too large to handle. I ask conservatives, how much government do they want to do away with, because it is happening. We are going back to the 18th century fast. And those were not good times for most.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
  82. mike

    This is sort of story underscores the difference between the philosophies of capitalists with a heart vs. the heartless capitalists. Do americans think their government has a role to play in addressing these needs or do americans believe this young boy and his family should receive help without government help such as through charities, including so-called "christian" organizations. This is what is being debated in american now.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  83. Bill

    I know people will say it is irrelavent and not germain to the story. But like most news articles, CNN doesn't ever mention whether or not little Carlos belongs to illegal immigrant parents (I ask because many in South LA are). While I am sure he is an American... we all pay for the illegal (if they are in fact aliens) life his family lives in the U.S.

    Let's face the fact, our immigration policy is racist and unfair. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants from all around the world are turned away because we look the other way as thousands come in illegally just because they have the benefit of proximity.

    1) Begin aggressively rounding up illegals and sending them home.
    2) Build a wall.
    3) Increase immigration visas by %400... evenly distributed throughout the world. Indians/Malaysians/Turks/Somolians will work just as hard as field hands and roofers... if that is so important. Don't drop the "only Hispanics will work this hard for so little".
    4) Amend the constitution to require that at least one parent be a citizen in order to be a citizen by birth.... 5-year naturalization is still possible.
    5) Get this country's immigration policy back to the melting pot it should be (not hispanic-centric).

    March 8, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  84. Cindy Watson

    So, have the parents ever worked and had health insurance? Or are they just waiting for our tax dollars to support them? Isn't this what Medicaid is for?

    March 8, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  85. AJ

    According to the article, Carlos' father abused alcohol and was abusive toward his family just six months ago. Carlos still lives with his father! There's no mention of his father getting counseling or any kind of help. His drinking/abuse problems are simply spoken of in the past tense, like he was magically cured of them and now the only issue to deal with is the effect of the trauma on Carlos. This kind of thinking is why the social service system is so broken.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  86. Ummm

    Sad story, but it sounds to me like it's Carlos' parents who are causing the problems, by fighting and making the kid's life a frazzled hell. Shouldn't they be getting marriage counseling or something? Why make it sound like it's all the kid's fault for getting upset that his parents fight with each other and him? Totally not surprising that he suffers extreme anxiety, and his parents' fighting distracts him. If they stopped fighting, I bet he'd get better faster. And if they continue fighting, I wonder if any amount of therapy is going to do him lasting good...

    March 8, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  87. Alex P Keaton

    Let's report the whole truth, he is not solely at the mercy of the lawmakers! If his parents had a job with suitable benefits then his conditions would typically be covered. Yes, but for the grace of God go I, I'm not in their situation. However, people that put themselves through school by working whenever and where-ever they could shouldn't be burdened with paying for everyone else. I have a good paying job with benefits – not because someone gave it to me, because I worked hard my entire life to get here.

    If your solution is to tax every penny I make then I'm not interested.......

    March 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  88. Ken

    It's the fault of the parents. 99% of the time, the blame falls on them. Mom and Dad should not have had the babies if Mom and Dad could not provide. Once the babies did arrive however, the decision should have been made that they will come first at all cost.

    Parents, outsiders, people reading this story itself often want to point at the teachers in our public schools. They're there to teach. THAT IS IT! They're not babysitters, grief conselors or surrogate parents. Of course, I imagine most try to be there for the ones that need extra attention but "Hello", they've got 100 plus children on a daily basis with whom they must attend.

    Carlos in all fairness, does not deserve that teachers time at the cost of the other 99 plus students.

    The parents are to blame. PERIOD.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  89. Linda C

    Seems to me that it's the parents who need counseling. And, are these people citizens of the United States?

    March 8, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  90. DCdude

    It may sound harsh...but why is this the taxpayer's burden. The parents need to do whatever it takes to get a job, make money, etc. This boy is their responsibility, not the taxpayer's. Everyone could have a sob story...but you have to quit drinking, quit drugs and man/woman-up and take care of your own!

    March 8, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  91. Lana

    We've got to do better. I don't know how, but we're just got to. Carlos shouldn't have to end up in jail before he can get help to be a productive member of society. Isn't that what we want?

    March 8, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  92. Marc

    Poor baby, we should all pay for his healthcare and I'm sure we're also paying for his parents and sisters as well. No sympathy here, go get a job and pay for it like the rest of us have to.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  93. SA Jones

    The state of the educational system in this country is in need of a complete overhaul. I am the parent of two children with special needs located in an affluent neighborhood in the Boston area. Even though we pay very high taxes are children are falling through the cracks. The administrators had the nerve to state that the children with learning disablities do not exist in our town. It is appalling that so many children have issues across the board. These children are labeled and still cannot get assistance. The government needs to take care of our children. they are our future. Maybe then.. our prisons will become less filled with individuals who are frustrated and angry due to the fact that they were pushed aside due to their learning disabilities. Being learning disabled hurts a childs self esteem and eventually the kids make the wrong choices landing them into trouble that they never imagined.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
  94. Bill

    What a sad, pathetic country we live in – we'll spend $4,000,000,000.00 (billion) dollars to build an aircraft carrier and yet we let these kids fall through the cracks. God should get us for that.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  95. Dave

    A very sad story, but this is just CNN's way to push people into the whole healthcare bandwagen. There are 1,000 if not 10's of 1,000 of people out there in the same boat as Carlos, there is another ways to address this problem.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  96. EricLR

    How exactly is state money supposed to help a kid raised by crappy parents? What, is more state money supposed to make his father's alcoholism and abuse disappear, or build a time machine to go back and convince a couple of poor, unemployed, drunks that having a kid might not be such a good idea? More money in California's budget isn't going to make this kid's life any better (unless it funds an adoption agency to find him some decent new parents and moves him to a neighborhood that isn't in a war zone).

    March 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
  97. tiffany

    I know all of the comments that are not positive will be deleted, but I am going to say what I think anyway. I think the parents are completely at fault. Fighting in front of the kids is a huge no no. Also if one parent is always drunk that just make it worst. The little boy is scared and so he acts out.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
  98. Trojan

    The article says that neither of his parents work. Why don't his parents get a job with health insurance like the rest of us. They seem to be the big problem. They don't work, but they sit at home all day and drink alcohol and fight. Don't put this on the government, put this on the irresponsible parents. Even if the government pays for his health care, Carlos will still be living in a broken home and scarred for life from alcohol and fighting.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
  99. tom

    this makes me a bit disgusted honestly... I used to suffer from anxiety and psychotherapy really works wonders. It's even worse for the poor and young.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  100. rr

    The main cause of financial shortages, huge deficits, and diminishing services are the wars. End the wars, bring the soldiers home, secure the borders, and these and similar services can be provided. Politicians do not appear ready to admit the basic fact. 50-60 years ago England went through the exact same scenario.

    March 8, 2010 at 11:59 am |
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