A local family is struggling to find a home for their autistic daughter after a nonprofit meant to house and provide employment opportunities for adults with disabilities told them it plans to close its Kentucky locations.
Community Options Inc., a 501(c)3 organization based in New Jersey, notified Bob and Janet Bloomingburg the week of June 16 that its location in Paducah would be closing. The nonprofit has housed the couple's 23-year-old daughter, Grace, for the past four years; she has two roommates, Bob Bloomingburg said.
"I was assured at that time that it was Community Options' responsibility to find alternate placement, and that they could not close until they had," he said. "I was certainly concerned, but not overly concerned until Wednesday, July 10, when the local office called and said they were directed to drop my daughter off at Western State Mental Hospital on Monday."
Bloomingburg said he, local Community Options staff, and Grace's case manager at Easterseals West Kentucky have worked diligently since then to avoid that outcome. Grace has severe autism and requires around-the-clock supervision.
"Placing Grace in a home was a difficult decision, but due to health and other family reasons, we could no longer service her needs at our home," he said, adding the couple's worries about what would happen to their daughter upon their deaths contributed to the decision.
"All of the counselors and professionals who work with her say that a mental hospital absolutely would not meet her needs. She is mentally disabled, not mentally ill," Bloomingburg said.
Bloomingburg said he contacted Attorney General Andy Beshear's office, the office of adult protection and several other state agencies, as well as State Rep. Randy Bridges of Paducah, in hopes of getting more time to find a placement for Grace.
"All I really wanted them to do is stay open for another month or two, until we could find someone else to take over the supervision of Grace's home. I think we were close to doing that until they pulled the plug this week," he said.
Neither the local Community Options location nor the national headquarters responded to requests for comment Friday.
The Community Options website no longer references its Kentucky locations, so it's unclear how many facilities will close.
Bloomingburg provided an email that appears to be from President and CEO Robert Stack regarding the nonprofit's reasons for leaving Kentucky.
Stack's email cites financial reasons for the closure, stating the nonprofit lost $1.7 million this year, and a similar amount the year before, in Kentucky. The email says the state would cover only half the real costs of the nonprofit's operations.
Community Options Inc. reported $4.9 million in net revenue for the 2017 calendar year, the latest for which its Form 990 is available. Its revenue for the prior year was about $2.8 million.
Stack, the nonprofit's highest-paid employee, earned $825,347 in reportable compensation and $50,549 in other compensation that year.
Community Options employed 6,476 people nationwide that year. It was founded in 1989 and operates in 10 states, excluding Kentucky, according to its website.
Bloomingburg said he wants people to be aware of the situation because it illustrates the need for homes like the one Community Options provided to Grace.
"The local area needs more group homes like this," he said.