KELOLAND News has followed the story of a young Sioux Falls man with developmental disabilities for several years now.
You may remember that Ben Graff was at the center of a lawsuit filed by his parents against Children’s Care Hospital and School, which later became LifeScape, over the repeated use of prone restraints on their son.
The Graffs lost that civil suit, but now six months later, they are moving forward.
KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke shows you how at 24, Ben finally has a place of his own.
Ben Graff has just passed a milestone most 24-year-olds take for granted. He’s just moved into a place of his own.
“That was always a dream of ours. We weren’t sure it was going to come true, but it did,” Ben’s mom Debbie Graff said.
Ben’s parents were worried about what would happen with Ben as they age and caring for him becomes more difficult.
“He cannot be left alone. He needs help with brushing his teeth, washing his face, getting dressed–all the things, feeding,” Debbie Graff said.
Kayla Harris and Jenna Askelson have now taken on the role as Ben’s caregivers. It’s through a new program to South Dakota called Resources for Human Development.
“So this environment where it’s small, it’s quiet, where it’s his home–he gets to operate things. It’s his bathroom it’s his kitchen, those type of things–are just a lot more meaningful in his life,” Kelli Anderson of Resources for Human Development said.
Harris and Askelson are paid a daily rate by the non-profit organization, which provides the oversight of Ben’s care with regular visits and required documentation.
“The match, the caretakers–the match for Ben, is just a blessing. You realize there are people out there made for this type of job,” Debbie Graff said.
Ben’s mom is amazed to see how even though he just moved into his own place, his world is already expanding.
“He is doing things that I never thought were possible and I think Ben has been telling us for a long time that he is ready to move on. He wants to be with people. He wants to have friends. He wants to have a life too,” Debbie Graff said.
There are now 16 shared living homes in South Dakota. Seven of those are in Sioux Falls. And the organization is currently looking for more caretakers to meet the demand.