MCCLEARY, Wash. - Melissa Baum's daughter Lindsey disappeared last summer as she walked home from a friend's house in the small town of McCleary.
Initially, Melissa took a few months off work to spearhead the search for her daughter, and to cope with her despair.
"I was not even conscious for the first two or three weeks even. I was pretty well medicated," she said.
Melissa says after several months of unpaid leave, her request to return to work part time was denied. So she says she filed for and received unemployment for about five weeks, until she got a notice.
"I received $1,125. And they want $1,000 of it back," she said.
Melissa says she just doesn't have the money right now. In fact, she can no longer pay the rent at the McCleary house she hopes Lindsey will return to one day. So she and her son recently moved in with relatives.
She says she still can't return to work full time since she's committed to finding Lindsey, and her son, who has Asberger's syndrome, continues to struggle with his sister's disappearance.
"I didn't quit working because I wanted a vacation," said Melissa.
The spokesperson for the state's employment security department say confidentiality laws prevent them from commenting on this or any other case, but Melissa says the system just isn't designed to help parents whose children are missing.
"It's a situation that I have no control over. But at the same time, it's not something they have precedence for. They have to go by the laws," she said.
While she's worried about re-paying the money, Melissa says financial security is only second on her wish list.
"I want my daughter home," she said.