Boy stuck for weeks at Colorado hospital after dad abandons him and social services too busy to take action

A 13-year-old autistic boy in Colorado has been stuck in the ER at UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital for the last three weeks after his father abandoned him there and social service workers said they didn't have the resources to take quick action.

The situation is so dire, in fact, that a hospital employee felt compelled to reach out to Rep. Judy Amabile of Boulder for help.

"Boulder County DHS has not spent more than five minutes with this child since his arrival three weeks ago," the hospital employee wrote. 

From CBS News:

The employee said Boulder County Human Service workers initially agreed to take custody of the boy and then refused saying he was safe in an emergency department. …

[Rep.] Amabile says state and county human service workers told her they are working on finding placement for the boy but she says it is unconscionable that he has been forced to live in a hospital for nearly a month, "I don't know whether the dad may or may not have reached out and ask for help but may not been able to get any help. Like we just… we don't know, but what we do know is that you can't just leave a 13-year-old in an ER for weeks on end with no end in sight." …

Amabile has carried legislation allocating millions of dollars to increase the availability of residential treatment. She says the state is not moving fast enough to deploy the money.

"We're not responding like it's an emergency. We're responding like, well, it's a problem," she said. …

While it is unclear why the boy's dad abandoned him, Amabile says, perhaps if the child welfare system had been involved sooner, he may not have done so. 

Amabile said she has contacted both Boulder County and State Human Service workers but only got a "working on it" response — which is about the best you can expect from the broken U.S. health care and social services systems.