Department of Justice (DOJ) investigators claim that hundreds of medically fragile and disabled children have been unneccessarily warehoused in geriatric nursing homes, says CBS News. Federal investigators visited six Florida nursing homes and identified a number of children who investigators say don’t need to be in a geriatric care center and would benefit from being at home or in other community settings.
Department of Justice Letter to the Florida Attorney General
Federal DOJ investigators claimed in a letter to The Honorable Pamela Jo Bondi, the Attorney General for the state of Florida, that the warehousing was a violation of the children’s civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“Hundreds of children are currently segregated in nursing facilities throughout Florida,” the letter says. “They are growing up apart from their families in hospital-like settings, among elderly nursing facility residents and other individuals with disabilities. They live segregated lives – having few opportunities to interact with children and young adults without disabilities or to experience many of the social, educational and recreational activities that are critical to child development.”
White Paper Findings
A white paper released earlier this year by the Florida Association for Medically Fragile Children raised a number of concerns about children in geriatric centers.
- Senior nursing home populations are decreasing, so owners of geriatric facilities are competing to take in medically fragile children to remain profitable without considering the children’s special needs
- Medical services and clinicians are referring the children to nursing homes without developmental testing and are not telling parents about other options
- Geriatric nursing homes are not equipped to take care of special needs children
- Some medically fragile children and young adults are not able to use standard call buttons for assistance, potentially putting them in danger
- nursing homes are proposing to cut staff to levels that endanger special needs children
Lawsuit on behalf of children in geriatric centers
CBS News reports that parents have filed a lawsuit earlier this year on behalf of 250 disabled children in geriatric centers. The parents are demanding access to home care services.
DOJ call for action
DOJ has given the state several days to address these issues. If the state of Florida does not comply, the DOJ says that it may initiate a lawsuit related to the ADA.