Families of 250 disabled children have filed a Federal Court lawsuit against the State of Florida alleging that the state violates terms of the Americans With Disabilities Act and a Supreme Court ruling by keeping the children in nursing homes as opposed to allowing them to live at home or in the community.
The lawsuit represents that many of the children involved in the case are entitled to receive the medical care that they require because of of the case law precedent that provides that states are to provide care for the sick and disabled in the least restrictive setting. Additionally, the majority of the children have medically stable conditions that don’t necessarily require the level of care provided at skilled nursing facilities.
It’s all about the money
Not surprisingly, the major sticking point behind this issue is the the financial aspects involved in caring for special needs children. As a recent news article on this lawsuit in the SunSentinel mentions, it costs approximately $500 / per day or $180,000 to care for a special needs child in a nursing home setting. Meanwhile, similar care in a home setting with round-the-clock care costs almost $250,000 per year.
Having worked with families with special needs children, I can attest to the dismal living accommodations available for most children in a nursing home setting. While it’s easy for State officials to look at this issue strictly on paper and say ‘what’s the big deal’ for the child involved, but surely this issue directly impacts families who are forced to remain separated from their child as they wait for approval to bring their children back home.