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There but for the grace of God go I

This morning, this is a heartbreaking story on the cover of the N&O.

Salima Mabry watched over her son Tuesday as he slept awkwardly in the chair where he had spent eight days waiting for a bed in a state mental hospital. Joshua Stewart, 13, is severely autistic and has an IQ of 36. He can only speak in short, single words, such as “Ma” or “hurt.” He first arrived at Wake County’s Crisis and Assessment unit for people with mental illness in the back of a squad car on Jan.18 after he attacked his mother and little brother.

As the mother of two sons with autism, one of whom has had serious issues with aggression, I can easily imagine myself in Ms. Mabry’s situation – desperate to find help for my child and also terrified of what he might do next. But I am lucky. My boys got slots in the Community Alternatives Program, which provides them with a variety of services, even as thousands of families around the state remained on the waiting list.

This is how budget cuts impact actual, real-life people. And this issue stretches well beyond the problems with inadequate mental-health funding. It’s about not providing enough teachers and not giving them the training they need so they can help children with disabilities. It’s about refusing to provide funds for early intervention services. It’s about cutting Medicaid reimbursement rates until providers are forced to stop taking those patients.

The budget is about much more than just money.

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