FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., July 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department is suing Florida for allegedly failing to provide care to handicapped children that may have kept them from entering nursing homes.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, alleges Florida violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, which requires states to provide disabled people with the care necessary to prevent them from being segregated from the community and placed in institutional care. The Justice Department suit seeks to have Florida begin providing the care necessary to more than 200 children whose conditions, if diagnosed and treated properly, could mean they're able to live at home with family -- and compensatory damages for the children and their families.
In September, the Justice Department warned Florida officials in an extensive finding that the state was in violation of the ADA.
"The state's failure to provide access to necessary community services and supports was leading to children with significant medical needs being unnecessarily institutionalized in, or being placed at serious risk of entering nursing facilities," the Justice Department said in a release Monday.
In some instances, Florida health officials have relegated children to nursing homes for years before they even get the screening necessary to determine if they require nursing home care, the suit alleges.
"As a result of the state's actions and inaction, the state has forced some families to face the cruel choice of fearing for their child's life at home or placing their child in a nursing facility," the Justice Department said.