Parents Speak Out About DHS Transportation Issues In Northwest Arkansas

(KFSM) — After issues with the Department of Human Services (DHS) contracted services, some families in rural Northwest Arkansas who have children with disabilities have lost transportation to get their kids to and from school and appointments.

Four-year-old Mariskia is one of many kids who go to a school in Huntsville that helps with developmental delays and other disabilities.

Kristi Eledge says a van used to pick up her daughter and many other kids to take them to and from school and other appointments.

"With her getting these therapies, with her getting the social interaction she one day will be able to function and live on her own and that's the main goal here, is for these kids to be able to have quality of life and if we don't have the therapies, they aren't going to have that," Eledge says.

The issue started earlier this year after the DHS switched to a new transport service called South East Trans. The company is having issues getting out to Huntsville.

Eledge is now spending an extra $80 a month taking her daughter to school and to her appointments.

"For every appointment, she has in Fayetteville, Rogers, Bentonville that's another $20. When you are talking about making it on less than a thousand dollars a month with no government assistance, no food stamps, no nothing, it's difficult," Eledge said.

Rebecca Reid is in the same situation. She has twin 3-year-old boys who also have developmental delays. She says it's been a month since the service has picked up her sons and it's been very frustrating.

"It's an inconvenience trying to get them there at 8:15 a.m and then from Huntsville, I have to drive all the way to Springdale in 45 minutes trying to not be late for class, so I don't get kicked out. When before when I first signed up for school they were picked up at 6:30 a.m.," Reid said.

In a statement, DHS said it's aware of the gaps in transportation, but that it's a contract issue. It says it's in contact with the company South East Trans who is working to eliminate the transportation gaps.

5NEWS reached out to South East Trans for a statement but have not heard back yet.

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