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‘Arc of the Shoals’ fears mental health budget cuts will hurt most vulnerable people

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TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (WHNT) - With mental health care taking a hit in an attempt to balance the budget in Alabama, it's hard to grasp the full impact to services many families rely on.

The cuts would directly impact some of the state's most vulnerable residents, like those that get support from Arc of the Shoals in Tuscumbia.

"Families are very dependent on us. We're all they have," stressed program director Donna Akins. "Some parents will have to quit their jobs to take care of these people if the budget is cut."

The program supports people with various intellectual disabilities, from those with autism to those with developmental disabilities. They help those who can't help themselves.

Michael Banksden is one of them. His life revolves around the services the Arc of the Shoals offers.

"He loves it here," said Michael's mother Mary. "He looks forward to coming every day. He wants to come every single day, and when he doesn't come, he gets a little upset."

A lot of the families that rely on the day program at Arc have jobs. So, while their adult child is at the center, they're able to hold a job and have a regular life.

But with cuts from mental health services looming, this service, which is a non-profit that relies on Medicaid, will be limited. Akins said they've already made cost saving changes.

"There's just nowhere else that we can look to cut from our budget without it impacting the people that we support and their families."

Some live-in homes may have to close their doors, and the Hope Haven day program may not ever be able to support the 150 people on a waiting list for services.

"It's so sad to think that we're not even addressing those people," Akins added. "They have a very bleak future with the budget that we're being presented with at this point."

"It could impact people that need it the most," said Mary. "They need the program the most because it impacts their life, it makes their lives a lot easier."

Arc of the Shoals is the only service of its kind in the area, and they currently support about 150 people.

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