CHICAGO (MCT) — A 19-year-old Illinois woman with severe disabilities who was left by her mother at a Tennessee bar last month is returning to the state to be placed at a residential facility, officials said Thursday.
An Tennessee judge ruled Wedneday that the young woman be immediately released to the state of Illinois.
The woman was considered indigent after her mother, Eva Cameron of Algonquin, Ill., told Tennessee officials that she could no longer care for her daughter and did not want to pursue guardianship.
“It became a crisis because she was essentially homeless,” said Januari Smith Trader of the Illinois Department of Human Services, which is handling her placement. The woman will go “straight to her placement” without her family’s involvement, said Trader, who declined to identify the state facility.
Illinois and Tennessee have lengthy waiting lists for housing the disabled, and take emergency cases first, officials said.
Cameron has said she drove the woman to rural Caryville, Tenn., on June 28, looking for a church to take her daughter because, she said, she could no longer handle the daughter’s medical bills and behavior. Her daughter became sick along the way, she said, and so she stopped at the bar, which she says she believed to be a restaurant.
She watched her daughter enter the restroom, then drove home, leaving the young woman behind, she said.
Her daughter, who has the intellectual abilities of a 3-year-old, was found with no identification or money, and was not able to identify herself, according to police.
Authorities tracked down Cameron after they published a photo of the woman that was recognized by a Chicago-area tipster. They initially announced that Cameron had broken no laws, since her daughter is an adult.
No charges have been filed. But state officials are now investigating the case and have said they hope to “hold the mother accountable.”
Cameron could not be reached Thursday.
Over the past month, her daughter had been living at residential facility in Kingston, Tenn., according to records filed with the Campbell County Chancery Court in Tennessee.
On Wednesday, Judge John McAfee issued the order that allowed the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to “immediately transport” the young woman to Illinois.
“The State of Illinois wishes to retain jurisdiction of her and has obtained a suitable placement that will provide appropriate services upon her return,” McAfee wrote.
Melissa Marshall, spokeswoman for the Tennessee agency, called the decision “a wonderful outcome.”
“We are ecstatic that Tennessee worked with the state of Illinois to ensure her safety,” she said.
Tony Paulauski, executive director for The Arc of Illinois, which provides services to the disabled, said: “Illinois is a broken system. “The governor really is attempting to rebalance the system. But many families are just so frustrated because of the lack of support services and respite care. It is a monumental task.”