Florida Announces New Program for Families of Children in Nursing Homes

Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has launched a new program it calls “Enhanced Care Coordination” in response to heavy criticism regarding children kept in nursing homes throughout the state.

The program will hire no fewer than 28 nurse care coordinators statewide to assist the families of the approximately 221 disabled children who live in Florida nursing homes.

Last year, federal officials released a report accusing Florida of “warehousing” disabled children in nursing homes where they lived in isolation with little education or stimulation.

The AHCA and director Liz Dudek have refuted the allegations from the beginning, saying that the children were well cared for.

In a statement announcing the new program, Dudek said it is “designed to help empower parents, to help them and to educate them and to help them personalize the experience that they have,” adding that some children have already left the nursing homes to move back with their families, and the program would accelerate that process.

The Florida Development Disabilities Council (FDDC) sees the program as encouraging. FDDC Chair Kathy McCallister said that the council “believes that children, even those with medically complex conditions, should be living with their families or in a home-like environment.”

Dudek said that the AHCA’s relationship with the federal government has been a difficult one, but added that her agency will work to convince federal officials of the children’s well-being.

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