A U.S. Department of Justice review of state services for children with disabilities in Florida has found the state is violating those children’s civil rights by institutionalizing hundreds of them in nursing homes, even though they could live at home with the proper supports and services.
In a letter this month from Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, the Justice Department said that many of the children who enter such facilities are separated from their families for years.
At issue are children who are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act who should be given the opportunity to live in the most integrated setting possible. According to the Justice Department, Florida’s practices provide few opportunities for children in institutional settings to return to their families.
Florida has cut spending on in-home services and community-based services for people with developmental disabilities while expanding facility-based care, the department found.
The state health agency involved in the issue said it would visit and review the cases of hundreds of the medically fragile children living in geriatric nursing homes, The Miami Herald reported.
A version of this article appeared in the September 19, 2012 edition of Education Week as Fla. Said to Mishandle Child Residential Care