Florida health officials deployed to investigate claims of 'warehousing children' in state nursing homes

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Florida long-term care officials will be making visits to numerous nursing homes after a federal report accused Florida health officials of warehousing disabled children in geriatric nursing facilities.

Liz Dudek, secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, said she is deploying staff members to visit nursing homes where federal officials say children are cared for alongside elderly residents. The move is in response to a federal report released last week by the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

The report, which was sent to Florida health officials, alleges that the state, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, is unlawfully keeping disabled children in nursing homes instead of with their parents. According to the letter, the parents of 221 children with complex health conditions have been denied home- and community-based services, leaving them without an alternative to nursing home care, the Miami Herald reported.

“Many children entering nursing facilities in the state are unnecessarily separated from their families and communities for years,” states the letter written by Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez. “With adequate services and supports, these children could live at home with their families or in other more integrated community settings.”