Norfolk mother’s fight for daughter with special needs highlights major backlog for care


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Norfolk mother called 10 On Your Side concerned her special needs daughter isn’t getting the services she needs.

Pat Richardson says her 33-year-old daughter Grenequa’s brain was underdeveloped and she functions on the level of an eight-year-old.

Richardson tells 10 On Your Side her daughter has been on a waiting list for services from the Norfolk Community Services Board for 13 years.

“It is heartbreaking,” Richardson said. “It is heartbreaking for me. She is not able to make her own decisions. She’s not able to be left at home alone. She can’t read. She can’t write. She can’t dial 911.”

Richardson tells 10 On Your Side her daughter needs to get additional services, such as a day support program. The services would come from the Department of Behavioral Health. 

The wait literally has taken what feels like forever

“Why is it taking so long?” Richardson asked. “12-13 years are a lot of years to wait for anything that a person needs.”

Grenequa is considered priority one, a category which indicates she is most in need of care. 

“She needs every service that they offer and more,” Richardson said.

The 33-year-old isn’t alone. 10 On Your Side has learned 246 Norfolk residents are on the waiting list, and 108 of them are priority one. 

There are some 13,000 residents statewide in need of similar services.

“You know it’s just been a big fight to get her these services that she needs to sustain, to become the best that she can become,” Richardson added.

10 On Your Side contacted the CSB and we were told that the wait time for services can vary for people who are even considered priority one. The Department of Behavioral Health says the number of those who do receive services is based on funding from the General Assembly. 

Richardson says right now Grenequa gets services though Optima Insurance. Last week though, Richardson got bad news. Optima is cutting the number of care hours for Grenequa in half.

“If something were to happen God forbid with me or my spouse, she has nothing,” Richardson added.

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