Life on the line: Caring for Ray-Ray

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Connie West was working at a school attended by children living at LifeLine facilities when she met an eight-year-old named Raykwan. Four years later she adopted the disabled boy, who has cerebral palsy and several other maladies; she said he and other residents did not receive adequate attention. West changed his name to Ray Lewis West, after the Ravens’ star, “because he needed a strong name to get through this,” she said.

A two-month investigation by The Baltimore Sun found that Lifeline has struggled to provide around-the-clock care to some of the state’s most vulnerable disabled foster children and that Maryland regulators often were unaware of serious problems — even as the company was taking in millions in state funds.

Such issues have mounted in recent years at Lifeline: its founder and CEO was imprisoned, the state disciplined it for inadequate care after the death of two adult residents and it was burdened by tax liens and other debts. But that did not disrupt the flow of state money. Maryland has awarded the company nearly $19 million in taxpayer-funded contracts since 2010 to care for juveniles who often are confined to a bed or wheelchair by paralysis, cerebral palsy and other disabilities.