Skip to main content

Earlier this year, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division got word that Florida officials have been sending sick and disabled children to adult nursing homes.  It found the goings-on so egregious that on Tuesday, it sent a "what the hell is going on here?" letter to Tallahassee.

Hundreds of Florida children are spending their formative years in hospital-like institutions, sometimes growing up in the equivalent of hospital rooms with virtually no education or socialization, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division wrote in a 22-page letter to Attorney General Pam Bondi. Bondi’s office is defending the state against a previously filed lawsuit that claims the institutionalization of children violates federal law.

The letter, written by Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, is the federal government’s first attempt to weigh in on the controversy. At the end of his letter, Perez outlined a series of steps the state could take to reduce its reliance on nursing home beds for frail children. If state leaders fail to “correct” the practice, Perez wrote, “the Attorney General may initiate a lawsuit” of his own.

Some youngsters remain in nursing homes for much of their lives: “a number” of kids, the report said, have spent a decade or longer institutionalized, including some children who entered the facilities as infants and toddlers.

Read the full letter here.  It alleges that disabled children often spend years in nursing homes--at least 50 haven't been home in five years.  

According to several advocates for disabled children, state officials have sent children to nursing homes even when they are more than capable of living at home with their parents.  Perez accuses the state of cutting millions of dollars from programs that support disabled children and turning down federal money that would allow them to stay at home.  The state even went as far as to repeal state rules that restrict the number of children that nursing homes can take in, and increased their per diems in order to encourage them to take children in.  According to Perez, this is not only a flagrant violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but also does serious damage to children.

The letter makes for horrifying reading.  Civil Rights Division investigators visited nursing homes in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa and St. Pete.  In one facility, the kids living there never leave their floor except for medical appointments or community outings.  At another, the entrance to an outdoor area is in the smoking section for adult residents.  

Some of the stories are absolutely gut-wrenching.  For example, one mother wants to bring her five-year-old daughter home from a facility where she's spent three years after being rendered a quadriplegic in a car accident.  But she can't because state officials told her she may have to wait as long as 10 years to get home-based care.  Another family had to fight for years to bring their son home after he nearly drowned.  The doctor prescribed home-health care to deal with his breathing problems, but had to sue the state to get it to provide the necessary care.

State officials claim that Justice ambushed them with the letter, and didn't provide them with an opportunity to comment before it was released.  But this seems hard to believe, given how far back this appears to date.  This, friends, appears to be "compassionate conservatism" at work.  

Originally posted to Southern Action on Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 12:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by KosAbility and DKos Florida.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

rolodomo, glitterscale, Emerson, Shockwave, SanJoseLady, xynz, Matilda, bookbear, scribe, CatM, concernedamerican, bronte17, davechen, missLotus, highacidity, Aquarius40, roses, Glinda, Iberian, antirove, aitchdee, emmasnacker, American Zapatista, BMarshall, flatford39, Sychotic1, defluxion10, rlharry, Matt Esler, KateCrashes, zerelda, Emmy, Josiah Bartlett, xxdr zombiexx, Sassy, historys mysteries, PAbluestater, Ckntfld, auditor, ChemBob, boofdah, eru, owlbear1, bleeding blue, ladybug53, Ice Blue, most peculiar mama, blue jersey mom, spunhard, FindingMyVoice, Born in NOLA, third Party please, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, tonyahky, mr crabby, Gorette, mooshter, Son of a Cat, philipmerrill, JVolvo, myrealname, middleagedhousewife, CA Nana, Statusquomustgo, Friend of the court, Tamar, old wobbly, donnamarie, Cronesense, peagreen, drmah, SemDem, karmsy, Matt Z, bnasley, jhop7, uciguy30, GeorgeXVIII, madgranny, AnnieJo, wayoutinthestix, Johnny Nucleo, mamamedusa, Sixty Something, Foundmyvoice, Involuntary Exile, mikeconwell, Lujane, tofumagoo, Cassandra Waites, catly, petulans, luckylizard, BYw, LaFeminista, MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel, prettygirlxoxoxo, Throw The Bums Out, Carol in San Antonio, Nebraskablue, earicicle, shopkeeper, Lopez99, Just Bob, commonmass, mamamorgaine, Laurilei, NJpeach, gramofsam1, appledown, freedapeople, gulfgal98, samanthab, elengul, Oh Mary Oh, nosleep4u, Onomastic, angstall, kerflooey, coquiero, spooks51, slowbutsure, afisher, anyname, OldGrammy, FarWestGirl, bookgirl, lillyspad, Teiresias70, boomerchick, marleycat, Lusty, zukesgirl64, IllanoyGal, thomask, Angela Quattrano, floridablue, illegal smile, pensivelady, bluedust, Vatexia, jolux, SteelerGrrl, googie, Mentatmark, allergywoman, No one gets out alive, left over flower child, Pinto Pony, stormicats, Liberal Granny, bluezen, Flying Goat, nellgwen, a2nite, 2thanks, Trotskyrepublican, Horace Boothroyd III, mapamp, hotheadCA, all for one one for all, the Don, MartyM, lunachickie, sexgenderbody, cassandracarolina, raina, DarkLadyNyara, glorificus, The Hamlet, Coastside Scout, alice kleeman, howabout, FourthOfJulyAsburyPark, BitterEnvy, Laura Wnderer, Jim Domenico, ConfusedSkyes

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site