Department of Justice Seeks Quick Action on Disabled Children in Nursing Homes

The U.S. Department of Justice sent Florida officials a letter requesting a meeting in the near future regarding a recent federal investigation, saying time was of the essence. That investigation found that disabled children are being housed unnecessarily in Florida nursing homes, contrary to their best interests. The department suggested that state and federal officials meet within two weeks.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires state governments to provide treatment for disabled children in or near their homes whenever feasible. The investigation centered on 221 children with complex and costly conditions who live in nursing homes and said many could live at home or in community settings if the state provided necessary services there.

Florida officials have vehemently denied the allegations and characterized the situation as a “misunderstanding.” They said they have visited all of the nursing homes where disabled children have been placed and contacted the children’s parents.

U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez criticized state officials in his letter for objecting to the investigation’s findings despite refusing to comply with federal requests for information. He also said that the Department of Justice has received numerous calls from families and patient advocates since the report.

“The issues raised in our findings letter are not simply our concerns; they reflect the concerns of families across Florida struggling to keep their families together and to have their children grow up at home, with all the benefits that flow from home and community living,” the letter said.

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