Trying to identify living Does

I just found this really cool article about some people who are wards of the state in Las Vegas and have no identities. Either severely mentally ill or suffering from brain damage, they are unable to provide anything like birthdates or Social Security numbers, and their names, if they have them, don’t pop up on databases anywhere. The county keeps them in institutions and care homes, but they’re ineligible for benefits like Medicaid because no one knows who they are.

The article tells the story of Monika Jenkins, a woman with schizophrenia who was on the Charley Project. She was living on the streets in Las Vegas. Her parents would periodically go looking for her, find her and try to convince her to come home with them, but she didn’t want to go. Monika turned out to be one of those unknown people the county was looking after.

These are very sad stories. Probably these people have someone, somewhere, who cares about them and just doesn’t know where to start looking. I hope this article leads to identifying all the other unknown wards.

11 thoughts on “Trying to identify living Does

  1. Jaime August 22, 2010 / 12:20 pm

    ABC News had an article about missing foster kids on July 27. About why it takes so long to find them and why they so easily fall through the cracks. Finding Missing Fosters Kids: Kids who disappear from the Foster Care System often at disadvantage.

    • Meaghan August 22, 2010 / 11:38 pm

      Yeah, I think I blogged about it.

  2. Jill August 22, 2010 / 11:06 pm

    This was actually a great read. I just wonder if any other units have similar programs set up? Do you have any idea Megan?

  3. Kat August 23, 2010 / 1:56 am

    I’m sure every state has UID’s and all, but you have to remember it varies from state to state on what is state run, hospital run, town run, etc, etc. And I think we have all seen how well coordinated all these places are. Cross reference is sparse at best. Some are cesspools as well, that have no desire to publish their unknowns if they get money for them. It’s a very convoluted situation, much like nursing homes. Some of these cases go back ages too…..I remember one I saw on DN that was this black man who had been in state custody since he was young, he was deaf/mute and maybe mentally ill but could have been ided and wasn’t, spent his whole life in cutstody, going waaay back to the 50s when those places were worse than Bedlam, and died there as well. So sad, and I wonder how many people have been in the same situation. So sad.

    • Meaghan August 23, 2010 / 2:04 am

      The article says the county does not, in fact, get money for UIDs and they are a huge financial loss to them. Because these people have no identities, they do not qualify for federal benefits like Medicaid, and so the county has to pay for their keep out of their own purse — which was part of the motivation for Clark County to make this effort to identify these people. But I do not doubt that in many places conditions are as you have described.

      This isn’t the only country to have this problem. I recall several years ago seeing some UID posters on the NCMEC site for Brazil. They were for children who were lost or abandoned by their families and were too little to remember who they were. They were growing up in orphanages which were probably not very nice. I don’t think it would be even possible to adopt them until their families are traced.

  4. Kat August 23, 2010 / 2:34 am

    Oh no, I didn’t mean just Clark County, I meant in general. I know where I was from, the state hospitals got a dollar per pound (per say, lol) for everyone, known or not. And since there is no national regulation on any of those places, like I said, it can vary from state to state, or even county to county. I feel very sorry for those people in bad circumstances like that. And as for the adoption thing, remember in the Sabrina Aisenburg (sp?) case, where there was that Paloma girl? I hope she had a happy ending.

    • Meaghan August 23, 2010 / 2:53 am

      Paloma is being raised by some family who loves her, but last I heard they weren’t able to officially adopt her due to her uncertain status.

      • Kat August 23, 2010 / 3:22 am

        I saw that here, but will she ever know who she is or get be ” officially” adopted. Too much paperwork I guess. How are you feeling Meaghan? Better?

      • Meaghan August 23, 2010 / 3:38 am

        Yep, cold gone, thanks for asking.

  5. Kat August 23, 2010 / 2:36 am

    Oh, and India too, speaking of your Brazil poster, I remember reading an article a few years back where there are tons of missing kids, taken for labor or in cases outright sold…..

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