The Price of Care: Taken by the State
An ABC10 investigation found the California Department of Developmental Services is failing people with disabilities.
Price of Care: Season Two
For over two years, the ABC10 Originals team has been investigating California conservatorships, a broken system leading to the abuse of some of the most vulnerable Californians.
Last year, ABC10’s investigative reporter Andie Judson uncovered the systemic issues of conservatorships in California, a topic in the headlines due to Britney Spears’ legal battle to regain her freedom. However, conservatorships impact thousands of Californians daily, especially those with disabilities.
In a new investigation, Judson exposes the alarming practices of the state agency responsible for the rights and needs of all Californians with disabilities, including separating families by conserving people with disabilities and cutting all contact and communication with their loved ones. Watch this ABC10 Originals five-part investigative docuseries, the Price of Care: Taken by the State.
Now Streaming: Episode One
Garth Schutte is 40 years old and was born with a developmental disability. His family cared for him for nearly four decades, but it all changed when Garth was taken by the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and placed under a limited conservatorship. His mother, Jill, and older brothers, Ian and Russell, are not allowed to speak to or see Garth. They don't even know where he lives.
The Schutte family shared their story with investigative reporter Andie Judson in hopes it will shine a light on a system impacting thousands of people with disabilities, which is funded by your tax dollars.
Now Streaming: Episode Two
Deborah Findley's son, Andrew, has autism and other health conditions. That's why when he was turning 18, Deborah decided to get a limited conservatorship, a common legal tool that allows Californians to continue providing care and protection for their loved ones with disabilities. But Deborah was blindsided; the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) competed with her - eventually getting conservatorship.
DDS will not let Deborah see her son in person, and in the last three years she's been allowed less than 100 hours of contact with Andrew. She has spent over $300,000 in legal fees fighting the state agency's court-ordered conservatorship to have access to her son.
In episode two, investigative reporter Andie Judson uncovers how the limited conservatorship system operates, through your tax dollars, and exposes alarming conflicts of interest, posing the question, "How do you fight a system funded by a $12 billion state agency?"
Now Streaming: Episode Three
The Bui family moved to California thinking their younger brother, Martin, who has autism would be better served under California's laws for disabilities. They didn't expect their family to be ripped apart, forced to fight the very system they thought would protect Martin.
In episode three, Investigative Reporter Andie Judson digs into an eye-opening report by the California State Auditor, which found the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) is failing to do the job they're legally required to: assist and protect those with disabilities.
Now Streaming: Episode Four
Michael Parisio, Jr. had a developmental disability, autism, and suffered from seizures, needing full-time care. When he turned 18 years old, he was put under a limited conservatorship, a legal tool that allowed his parents to continue providing care and making decisions for him. However, allegations of abuse arose and a proper investigation was never conducted.
In episode four, investigative reporter Andie Judson delves into Michael Parisio, Jr.'s case, which ended in death - exposing California's broken conservatorship system.
Editor's note: This story contains graphic and disturbing images. We made the decision to show these photos in an effort to illustrate how broken the system is and the impact it has on people with disabilities. We hope our state leaders will see this investigation, and will step in and help reform the conservatorship system.
Now Streaming: Episode Five
Marie Bergum was placed under a conservatorship, a legal tool that allowed her parents to provide care and make decisions for her due to a developmental disability from a brain injury. But Bergum was frustrated by the restrictions of the conservatorship, feeling "totally trapped," she decided to fight for her independence. After a long legal battle, she was able to change parts of her conservatorship but could not completely terminate it.
Marie is not alone; it is nearly impossible to end a conservatorship.
In an ABC10 Originals investigation, reporter Andie Judson uncovers the broken system that has led to the abuse of people with disabilities. But this could all change if Governor Gavin Newsom signs a new law sitting on his desk right now that could help reform California's conservatorship system and hold the Department of Developmental Disabilities accountable.
Price of Care: Watch Season One and Two
To watch all five episodes of season one, click on the far right icon on the thumbnail above.