Report Highlights Warehousing of Children With Special Needs in Nursing Homes

The U.S. Department of Justice recently sent the state of Florida a letter accusing it of illegally placing children with special needs in nursing homes. According to a report in the Miami Herald, a Justice Department investigation found that 221 children were living in nursing homes that are not set up for juvenile patients; the children are often left unattended for hours at a time.

Most of the children living in the Florida nursing homes have feeding tubes, and one-third of them require ventilators to breathe, which makes caring for them in other settings difficult.

Although nursing homes may be equipped with the medical tools required to treat people who need feeding tubes and ventilators, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal legislation require states to house people with disabilities in the least restrictive setting possible. Florida officials claim that the parents of the children all chose to place their children into those facilities, but the Justice Department disagrees, pointing out in a report that in many cases the children ended up in nursing homes because the state drastically reduced the level of in-home care they were receiving, leaving their parents no choice but to place their children in institutions.

It's important for the parents of a child with special needs to get the facts about all the programs that could help them keep their children out of a nursing home before deciding to move the child to a skilled nursing facility. While a nursing home may be required for some of the most serious cases, in most situations government programs are available to prevent institutionalization, and a special needs planner could help a family qualify for benefits. In cases where a child is already in a nursing home, a special needs planner may be able to help the family put together a plan that allows the child to move into a more appropriate setting, or at least obtain additional, child-specific support in the current facility. Call your special needs planner today for more information about these very important programs.

Article Last Modified: 10/03/2012