KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City mom worried that someone would have to die before she could get the help her nine-year-old daughter needed. The mom said her daughter has severe physical and mental disabilities, but she's becoming stronger and more violent
Life has always been a challenge for Jaliah Murphy. Born at 23 weeks, she weighed just ounces and spent her first 11 months in the hospital.
“She was a miracle,” mom Erica Murphy said.
Erica became her champion, making sure her little girl with severe mental and physical disabilities got the services she needed to thrive. But as she's grown older, other problems have emerged.
“She's become violent,” Erica said.
So violent that the daily nurses she requires for her trach and feeding tube keep quitting. At school, she's punched, kicked and even tried to bite her teachers. Last month she head butted Erica so violently, it knocked her unconscious.
“It's sad to say I fear her. I don't know what she'll do next,” Erica said.
She’s fearful for herself and also for her two younger daughters.
“My younger children are having to run and lock themselves in bedrooms to protect themselves,” Erica said.
Erica knows the only answer is for Jaliah to move out of her home and to a residential facility where she will have full-time care, and no longer be a danger. But Erica said she was told by hospital and Missouri Department of Mental Health workers that the only way for her daughter to get that care is for Erica to declare herself an unfit mother and report herself to the child abuse hotline.
“They have told me to give up my parental rights to her and possibly place abandonment charges and hotline myself, and be on the abuse and neglect register because I want to help my daughter,” she said.
Erica works full-time in the healthcare field and if she's hotlined as an abusive parent, she would lose her job and possibly custody of her other two daughters.
“I don't understand why there is nothing else out there to help us. A mother that is out there begging, pleading, knocking on doors for help for her child and can't get it. The only help is to destroy your life? To take my entire family away from me?” she asked.
Experts say there are other answers. UMKC family law professor Mary Kay O'Malley says no parent has to hotline themselves to get the help they need.
“There would be services through the department of mental health that wouldn't require abuse and neglect. That's just for cases where there's proven abuse and neglect,” she said.
Even the staff at the psychiatric hospital where Jaliah is now temporarily staying pleaded in a letter to the Missouri Department of Mental Health to provide more services to Jaliah. But she never got them, until Erica reached out to “Rediscover,” a non-profit agency that helps parents of special needs children.
“They had seen a mother that had been passed around to so many people and got no help,” she said.
Rediscover asked for a meeting of every agency involved in Jaliah's care, that's when Erica learned they have funding that will help little Jaliah get all the services she needs. That's all her mom ever wanted, without having to declare herself a bad mom.
“They have different waivers you can get to pull funding out of,” Erica said.
A spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Mental Health would not discuss the case, claiming it would violate federal healthcare privacy law. That's despite the willingness of Jaliah's mom to provide written permission for her daughter's case to be made public.
The department also issued a statement saying it is against policy for any state employee to encourage a parent to contact the child abuse hotline if there is no evidence of abuse.