Meet Michael, a story of child neglect
Meet Michael. He looks like your average 12-year-old on the outside – baggy pants, shirt too large, baseball cap turned backwards. But on the inside……he is tormented, bursting with fury, and totally confused. His father left when he was born, and his mother turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with her three children (all from different fathers). Michael is the target of bullies at school because of his teeth. The bullies call him, “Cave Man.” His mother promised over and over to get them fixed, but something always “came up.” He knew she was spending all their money on drugs. When Children Services finally intervened, Michael was separated from his siblings and placed in a foster home with Mr. & Mrs. Marks. His behavior worsened. His grades fell. The bullying grew worse. Michael was considering suicide.
The Marks weren’t quite prepared for all of his problems, but they decided that the one thing they could do was fix his teeth. It took months to get a dentist appointment with a Medicaid dentist, but the dentist was thorough and kind. When Mr. Marks explained that Michael was a foster child, the dentist even reduced the estimate on the repair. When the Marks called Medicaid to see how much the procedure would be covered, the bill would be $800 more than the Medicaid payment. Mr. and Mrs. Marks couldn’t see how they would be able to disappoint Michael AGAIN, but $800 was beyond their means.
The case manager assigned to Michael contacted Child Guardians, and within 8 days, the dentist had a check for the balance of the bill. After 16 hours of dental work, Michael looked like a new person. Over the next few months, with encouragement from the Marks and his teachers, Michael started to gain self-respect. His thoughts of suicide receded. His behavior and grades improved. Michael’s world is not perfect, but he knows that there are people in his life that care.
- The all-volunteer Child Guardians Board of Directors works with One Child Each Time. We have been working with the “Michaels” of our community for 30 years.