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Parents worry about finding new programs as Carlton Palms prepares to close down

Posted at 6:53 PM, May 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-10 18:53:52-04

Local parents are worried about finding a new place that's safe and can properly care for their children with severe autism and serious behavioral issues.

Right now, one of only facilities of it's kind in Florida could lose it's license leaving these families searching for other options.

These parents were already facing a 2019 deadline to find a new program for their loved ones because of changes in federal laws, however recent allegations of abuse and neglect have added extra pressure.

Candice Zambory received a letter this week from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

For the last 15 years, her son Stephen has been living at Carlton Palms in Mt. Dora.

It’s a facility she says can handle and care for her son who is on the autism spectrum and has aggressive behavioral issues.

“My concern is I don’t know whats going to happen after May 31st,” said Zambory.

“I want to be told that things are going to be run the old way, that staff will be properly trained.”

The notice from APD comes almost exactly one month after it filed an administrative complaint trying to revoke Carlton Palms license— citing incidents ranging from rape to death within the last year.

“I have to know that my son is going to be safe,”said Zambory.

The state was already in the process of closing down the facility, partly because of problems reported there, but also because of changes in federal laws that directed states to move away from institutions and instead place residents in group home type settings.

“But it worked, the program worked,” said Zambory who is concerned about finding another situation that will adequately suit her son’s needs.

Parents like Betsy Carroll who’s son Brian has been at Carlton Palms for 20 years was already concerned about the inevitable transition.

“Yes, I’m very concerned with him being there any longer than he has to. But I’m also concerned that if we bring him out of there, and we try a program down there in Broward County, it doesn't’t work and then where does he go from there,” said Betsy Carroll.

While Bellwether is reportedly leaving at the end of the month, the facility will remain open through the 2019 deadline. However, it’s not clear yet who will be running the facility when that happens.

APD says it is working diligently and has been for sometime helping these parents transition and find new homes to suit the individual needs of their adult children.

We reached out to Bellwether for comment, so far they have not gotten back to us.

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