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Children’s Rights Attorneys: U.S. Sues Florida for ADA Violations Over Cutting Care, Habitually Placing Fragile Kids in Adult Nursing Homes

To children’s rights attorneys and lawyers who have fought and sued to protect at-risk and medically needy children’s civil rights and for damage claims, a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against Florida healthcare agencies was welcome news.

In the face of continued spending cuts, questionable practices and corrective measures one children’s rights attorney called “window dressing,” the U.S. Department of Justice this week filed a civil rights lawsuit claiming the state has been violating the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act.

The suit seeks to halt the state’s practice of “warehousing” disabled minor children in adult nursing homes, sometimes even when parents were willing to provide suitable home-based care, with the assistance of necessary caregivers. Funding for such caregivers was deeply cut in recent years, even as funding for questionable institutional care was increased.

Healthcare regulators with Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Health and the Department of Children & Families have acted with “deliberate indifference to the suffering” of frail and disabled children by offering parents no “meaningful” choice but to warehouse their children in nursing homes along with elders, the lawsuit claims, according to the Miami Herald.

The ADA forbids discrimination against people with special needs.
The suit comes two years after the Justice Department chided state health administrators for its practice of caring for frail and disabled children was discriminatory. Since state ADA compliance was not coming voluntarily, the lawsuit was filed.

“Unnecessary institutionalization denies children the full opportunity to develop and maintain bond with family and friends; impairs their ability to interact with peers without disabilities; and prevents them from experiencing many of the social and recreational activities to contribute to child development,” the lawsuit states.

“The DOJ is asking a federal judge to declare the state’s program for disabled children in violation of federal law and to force the state to cease warehousing children in institutions,” the Herald reports.

Children’s advocates and attorneys who sue to protect children from abusive, unlawful civil rights violations applaud the case. We can only hope the state changes its ways – and children and their families receive the care and help they deserve.

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