Emmett Reed, executive director, Florida Health Care Association

Q: The federal government has sued Florida for having too many children in nursing homes. Does the claim have merit?

A: Only four of Florida’s 684 nursing facilities care for children. The sad reality the press has yet to report is that the majority of the 200 children living in these facilities have been placed there because they had no other safety net — the person to whom they were entrusted chose addiction or apathy over parenting, and [the child’s] health deteriorated as a result.

Q: Do nursing homes have a financial incentive to admit children?

A: Good care costs money. For these children, ventilators and feeding tubes are commonplace. They have nearly twice the number of staffing hours as a traditional nursing facility, with registered nurses, physicians, respiratory and speech therapists, social workers and other dedicated caregivers meeting their needs 24 hours a day.

Q: What about concerns that children languish in nursing homes alongside elderly residents?

A: Each pediatric nursing home has secure wings designed and operated as child-friendly, with kid-centered activities. Collaboration among families, the medical team and school system ensures each child’s schooling needs are met.