De Groot home offered a loving place for disabled children

Joe Tarica
Joe Tarica

I don’t know Sjany de Groot, but I feel for her predicament, trying to do good for disabled children while getting chewed up by the bureaucratic gears of the state.

How else can you characterize the Department of Public Health yanking her license as a care facility after more than 20 years in operation?

According to a notice published this week, the de Groot home no longer qualifies for Medi-Cal coverage because it has failed to meet a list of requirements that may or may not make a significant impact in the lives of the kids in question.

That means two of the children will have to be moved elsewhere while the 86-year-old de Groot and her daughter attempt to continue providing for the other three, who are under their guardianship.

But they’ll have to do it more on their own, without the level of financial help from the state that they have relied on up to now.

Yes, I’m sure there are ways de Groot could improve her facilities and staffing.

I’m sure she could focus attention on keeping the children’s medical exams current. But does she really have to be flogged over deflated wheelchair tires? Certainly that’s a simple fix.

And why exactly does each child need his or her own closet and bedroom, including an outside wall?

I’m pretty sure there are all kinds of able-bodied kids in homes all over the state who are sharing closets and rooms in twos and threes or more.

De Groot’s kids are not most in need of a hotel room with a garden view. They need the love, devotion and human contact from people who will look out for their needs, no matter what. Is she not doing that?

Think about it more carefully.

A woman well into her eighth decade has opened her home to the offspring of others who presumably were less capable of caring for them.

She has done this with unfailing dedication as best she can.

Yet instead of receiving accommodations, appreciation or even the most basic respect for her years of work, which have been sufficient to provide for these kids up until now, de Groot gets a figurative kick in the teeth.

Maybe they think she’s too old. Maybe they’re just following some master plan for disabled care.

Whatever the reason, they are telling a woman who’s given so much of herself to stop. But she won’t.

“I have yet to receive an answer to ‘Why now’ or ‘What has changed?’ to no avail,” she wrote in a letter to the state. “But, let it be known, my home is open to help a child and family in need and ‘I will never give up!’ ”

In a heartless story, that’s a heart-warming bit of inspiration. The Department of Public Health may not be able to appreciate it, but I’m sure five youngsters in San Luis Obispo do.