Disabled Florida kids stashed in nursing homes, Feds sue

It’s a choice no parent should have to make: a safe environment for your medically complex child, or the right to raise them with love in the security of your home. Unfortunately, for thousands of disabled Florida children with intensive medical or behavioral needs, the choice is being made for them by default. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was established in part to ensure that disabled people of all ages receive needed services and supports in the most inclusive setting possible. However, instead of funds being designated for necessary in-home supports, these children are being relegated to nursing homes — where they languish away from family and society.

After a two-year, disclosed investigation, the U.S. State Department of Justice sued the state of Florida for failing to comply with ADA law in the case management of nearly 200 disabled children, while 3000 are also at risk of nursing home placement. In addition, many of these facilities providing care for the children are riddled with problems. Some have been closed.

Many parents have been rallying for the right to the in-home care supports that their children need. Their children may have medical needs that require constant professional care. But according to the ADA, their emotional needs, family integrity and inclusiveness with society must be considered. If parents do not have the funds for round-the-clock live-in care, they are forced to make the tough decision between their child’s physical or emotional health. The parental bond to their children may be compromised. In some cases, the institutionalized child may even face abuse, neglect, or emotional suffering from family displacement. Florida’s Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek disagrees with these allegations, citing the many strides Florida has made in its case management of high-needs kids.

If you are a Florida parent of a disabled child, you may have been faced with some painful choices. Regardless of any ongoing dispute, the Federal Government is now on your side. Many of these sequestered children are returning to their families now. You may have felt helpless as your child languished in an inappropriate setting or even suffered mistreatment, but a personal injury lawyer can help you with these concerns and restore justice for your family.

CBS Miami, “Report: Feds Sue Florida For Keeping Disabled Kids In Nursing Homes” No author given, Jul. 22, 2013