A one-of-a-kind organization helping a vulnerable community is struggling to keep up with demand as their funding is being cut.
There are an estimated 38,000 deaf and hard of hearing people in the state and many of them turn to the Deaf Centers of Nevada.
Braden Cox and his wife Lauryn have taught their son everything they can. Two-year-old Kase is hard of hearing, like his father, and possibly his younger brother, Myles.
“We want to give Kase every opportunity, every ability to develop and to learn how to speak, kinda function in this world,” Braden Cox said.
The Cox family sought out help from the only organization they know of that offers the services they need — the Deaf Centers of Nevada.
but they were hit with a harsh reality.
“We’re at the back end of the wait list,” Braden Cox said.
In fact, almost 70 families are on a wait list.
“Our case workers have now gotten to the point they can no longer handle anymore cases,” said Kevin Carter, executive director, Deaf Centers of Nevada.
Carter says, they’ve seen an almost 70-percent increase since 2016 and currently have almost 1,500 clients.
“When you have that type of growth in less than a year-and-a-half, funding is going to be essential so we were a little disappointed when this new grant year came up,” Carter said.
Without explanation, Carter says their main source of funding, a state grant, is being cut from $1.6-million to just more than $1.4 million.
It’s the difference in money, he says, that is making a huge impact on their ability to provide services.
“We’re not able to hire additional case workers, we’re not able to hire additional deaf mentors,” he said. “We’re not able to hire additional job developers.”
While the federal and state governments provide some assistance to the deaf and hard of hearing, the center fills a gap by offering help with simple everyday tasks to complex issues and everything in between.
For the Cox family, time is ticking for Kase to learn how to speak before his hearing deteriorates.
“I can only imagine if the frustration that I feel for my family, how many other families feel that exact same frustration,” Braden Cox said.
The state says the cut in funding comes after the center didn’t spend all of its money from the previous year.
The organization is addressing some of these issues during a townhall Tuesday, April 10 starting at 6:30 p.m. at its center which is located at 3120 S. Durango Dr., Suite 301, Las Vegas, NV 89117.