Florida health and disability administrators have been systematically dumping sick and disabled children — some of them babies — in nursing homes designed to care for elders, in violation of the youngsters’ civil rights, the U.S. Justice Department says.
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. More from Carol Marbin Miller here.