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Feds Issue Warning Over Kids In Nursing Homes

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Federal officials are threatening legal action after an investigation found hundreds of kids with developmental disabilities needlessly relegated to nursing homes designed to serve the elderly.

The state of Florida is confining children — some just babies — to institutional settings even though they could be appropriately served at home or in more integrated environments with proper supports, according to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.

In a letter to the state’s attorney general last week, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said that Florida needs to take corrective action to come into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Otherwise, Perez said the Justice Department may file a lawsuit.

“The state’s reliance on nursing facilities to serve these children violates their civil rights and denies them the full opportunity to develop bonds with family and friends and partake in education, social and recreational activities in the community,” Perez wrote.

Justice Department investigators visited six large nursing homes in Florida where over 200 children with a variety of disabilities are housed. They also spoke with parents, many of whom indicated that they would prefer to care for their kids at home, but have been unable to secure assistance from the state to do so.

In many cases, kids living in the facilities are limited to specific areas and spend little time outside of the homes which resemble hospitals, investigators said. Some children are hundreds of miles from their families.

While the average length of stay was three years at the locations visited, investigators found kids who had been in nursing homes for more than a decade.

What’s more, Perez noted that other children are at risk of similar placements because of the “state’s policies and practices.”

Over the last several years, Florida has cut programs designed to provide community supports for those with developmental disabilities while increasing pay to nursing homes who serve kids, the letter says. Facilities often receive over $500 a day to care for kids, more than double the rate for elderly residents.

Florida officials, however, fiercely denied the allegations in Perez’s letter.

“The decision of where a child receives care is up to the parents, in conjunction with the child’s doctor,” said Elizabeth Dudek, secretary of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, in a statement. “The agency will never interfere with a family’s choice for the location of their child’s care. The agency uses a professional, rigorous, federally-approved, quality control system to ensure every family receives the appropriate level of care for their child.”

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Comments (10 Responses)

  1. Tacitus says:

    Can we get the letter in a PDF or some kind of open document format? I do not use M$ office, and will not pend the money on it.

  2. Adriana says:

    ““The decision of where a child receives care is up to the parents, in conjunction with the child’s doctor,” said Elizabeth Dudek, secretary of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, in a statement. “The agency will never interfere with a family’s choice for the location of their child’s care. The agency uses a professional, rigorous, federally-approved, quality control system to ensure every family receives the appropriate level of care for their child.””

    This is a blatant lie. AHCA and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities tell the parents that they can either place their children (including adult children) in a nursing home or they will receive no support from the state. And the nursing home placement for adults, instead of a more community centered placement (their own homes or a group home) is at least 5 times more expensive. That’s Florida.

  3. Tacitus says:

    Thanks, just me.

  4. Renee Schroeder says:

    Thank you for whomever is doing this. I read about this in my local paper (Fla.) and was not surprised. I am disabled, and Fla. stinks.

  5. hdemic says:

    Theres that word appropiate again. Such a abused word. Stupid agency.

  6. Lynette Dennison Lewis says:

    This is such disturbing news. Has our great nation gone back DECADES?! What an absolutely heartbreaking reality for these children. IDEA and FAPE are NOT mere “suggestons!” They are FEDERAL LAW…and this MUST be fully investigated! Parents in Florida…or in any other state that violates the rights and freedoms of YOUR CHILDREN…it is your RESPONSIBILITY as their parent to seek help and leave no stone unturned. I am the single parent of a child on the autism spectrum. When I do not know the answers, I seek help from those that DO. PLEASE do the same. SOONER, not later. TIME IS CRITICAL when dealing with autism, or many other developmental delays. Best wishes.

  7. Carolyn Schmalz says:

    I have a autistic spectrum (asbergers) mentally handicaped 30 year old daughter. I am scared. I will not live forever, she has 2 sisters that are more than willing to care for her but I do not want to put that responsibility on them. I want them to have their own life with their own children. My daughter was given to me not them. Well, she was given to all of us and she has been a blessing. She had made us appreciate the true meaning of life. I thank God every day. There are people who have it so much more worse than I do. However, the situation with group homes and care for these adults when the parents are no longer around is sad. I have some great ideas. I have seen these ideas work. It involves colleges. My daughter was at a life skills program in Carbondale, IL at Southern University. She lived on the college campus in a dorm type facility. It was a state run program. The colleges students who were in psychology/psychiatry programs helped and lived at this facility. The students were able to get free room and board for their participation and my daughter was able to get a great experience. The program was only for 9-12 months. Why can’t we do this at every college throughout the U.S? It would give our children a great life and give the students a great advantage. It would also give the parents great hope and relief. We worry about this situation every day.

  8. hdemic says:

    Federal Laws mean nothing. Michigan is putting medicaid money into the special ed schools for young adults 18 to 26 so Community Mental Health is stating these kids can not get services. The schools are taking this money and putting into General funds. So the kids are ***out of luck. There are no laws that are being followed. As far as this Florida thing this goes on in alot of states. The nursing homes are big buisness. Just like old people get abused so do our young ones. Yes we are going backwards because in this day and age we are taught not to fight. Our schools and churches teach do not fight. Do what you are told. Do not think. Why wonder none of our kids like to work today.

  9. Jane Morer says:

    State and Federal Legislators are big investors in the nursing home industry. It’s money in their pockets the more they have in nurshing homes. Is there a legislative lobby that is shutting out many from the least restrictive enviroments that they have legal rights to receive? The nursing home industry is a big industry and possibly a hendrance to those with disabilities.

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