Monday, September 17, 2012

U.S. Department of Justice Slams Florida for Placing Kids with Disabilities in Nursing Homes

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice sent out a 22 page letter slamming the State of Florida for placing many children with disabilities in nursing homes in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The letter came after an investigation by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, which found that many children with disabilities in Florida are separated from their family for years and placed in nursing homes.

The children that are placed in nursing homes are considered medically complex or medically fragile and often require substantial medical care in order to survive daily. Some of the children have cerebral palsy or traumatic brain injuries. At many of the nursing home facilities, these children are in the same patient population as the elderly and often only leave the facility for medical care.
Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the Florida Department of Health (DOH) are in charge of providing services and care for children with disabilities. Those agencies have countered by arguing that parents and doctors of these children are consulted in choosing the facilities to care for these children.

However, the Department of Justice has pointed out that Florida has rejected nearly $40 million in fedeal dollars designed specifically to support individuals transitioning from nursing facilities to other institutional settings in the community. Perhaps, if Florida had accepted this money, then these children would be living in more appropriate facilities. Getting these children into the appropriate facility is an important step in hopefully getting them back to their families and possibly integrated into everyday life.

The Department of Justice has threatened legal action if Florida does not change the situation. To learn more about this story, check out the following links:

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