UPDATE: (8-11-16) Assembly Bill 1930 passed and now will go to Governor Jerry Brown to be signed into law.
BARSTOW – A Barstow mother who dedicated every waking minute of her life for over 9 years to the care of her medically fragile son not only lost her son but because of the state laws, she has also lost all income. Cathyleen Williams now wants to make sure that no other parent will have to go through the financial uncertainty that she has had to after already losing her son.
Caleb Lucas lost his life-long battle with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome on March 18, 2016. Although Cathyleen was at peace knowing that her young son would no longer be ill she learned that the her job as his In-Home Supportive Service Provider would not qualify her for unemployment.
Several years ago after giving birth to Caleb, Cathyleen, who carries a business degree decided that the only viable option was staying home to care for him.
Caleb, required around the clock medical care making her only other option being to hire a nurse qualified to provide his care. The costs associate with hiring a nurse would cost more than Cathyleen believed a job would pay.
Caleb had all the desires of the average little boy but because of the Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome he was unable to do many things taken for granted by the average child. Cathyleen spent countless hours making Caleb’s life as normal as possible making him an at-home classroom where he learned via Skype with children just blocks away. She came up with many creative ideas to make Caleb have a closer to normal life.
Due to his fragile medical state most his life, Caleb was very limited to time spent with other children because even a cold could have been life-threatening to him. Through his short life Caleb fought for his life from the time he was just days old, Caleb has been through numerous surgeries. With well over fifty total surgeries, ten of those open heart young Caleb became accustomed to hospitalization while remaining a mentally strong and happy child.
Caleb went into cardiac arrest twice early this year causing doctors to send Caleb to Stanford for more advanced treatment. While at Stanford he again went into cardiac arrest causing the doctors to place a pacemaker. Approximately three weeks after the pacemaker placement Caleb began to show signs of infection causing doctors to place him on powerful antibiotics. “He ended up getting influenza B and he got tired,” said Cathyleen. “ I told him he didn’t have to fight he could go home to be with the Lord.”
Caleb listened and on March 18th just before 4:00 p.m. he stopped fighting. “I’m just so glad he’s done and in Heaven he went through way too much In his precious little 9 1/2 years,” said Cathyleen. Not knowing what to do next after losing her son, Cathyleen applied for unemployment benefits. “I received letters from the EDD office,” said Cathyleen. “It said that In Home Supportive Services workers providing services for a spouse or child are not eligible for unemployment benefits.” Cathyleen was stunned that after paying state and federal taxes all these years she did not qualify. She felt wrongfully excluded from something that would help keep her afloat while she sought other employment.
Cathyleen is not giving up the fight just like she did not ever stop fighting for her son. “I’ve contacted Assemblyman Obernolte, Senator Fullers office, as well as Lackeys office who started the bill (AB1930) his secretary is forwarding my information to the state capital,” said Cathyleen. “I know this change won’t help me but at least we can change this so no other person will feel like I do.” Cathyleen is seeking employment but the search has been a daunting one as she still mourns the loss of Caleb. “I’ve been applying for jobs but nothing, also my doctor said she didn’t think I was emotionally ready to go back yet,” she explained. “I’m just struggling with the transition we were so intertwined.”
Cathyleen wants the community to remember Caleb for the way he loved life and for his infectious smile in spite of all he endured. She is in need of community support and is asking that anyone that believes in this change to sign her change.org petition. She also still has the Youcaring.com donation account if anyone would like to contribute a few dollars to help her through her transition.
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