One story that has received almost no coverage during the Paralympics

Posted on Sep 8, 2012 | 5 comments

The Paralympics are here and, at least in Britain and many other countries around the world (America not being one of them) – people see disability in a new light. I went to the Paralympics with my family. I enjoyed being a part of it – but it was not an easy day. May was teething and desperate for a bottle and the Olympic Park is the size of Chicago.

“Just keep walking,” I said to my husband. “She’s will stop crying when she has a bottle in her mouth and the chance to sleep.” Which turned out to be true, but “just keep walking” resulted in a 40-minute scream fest.

When I spoke of our visit to people, I made no mention of the scream fest. Instead, I spoke of how great it was to be a part of sporting history.

In other words, much like disability coverage during the Paralympics, I glossed over the hard stuff.

Meanwhile, the same week we watched world-class, disabled athletes, we also received a letter from Lambeth saying they would no longer provide SEN transport to children like May. The Paralympics is the show; that letter is the reality.

This week, I found one story more troubling than anything I’ve read about all year. Where is the coverage? Languishing in a small column in the back pages of American newspapers.

Florida has been removing children with complex medical needs from their homes against their parents wishes to save money. The children are placed in nursing homes for the elderly, often not located hours away from their families and receiving little to any stimulation. Never going outside. Not living with other children. Receiving less than 3 hours of education a week.

If May had been born in Florida – they would have attempted to force us to place her in an institution from birth.

From The San Francisco Chronicle (and it goes to show how little coverage this is getting that no Florida media outlet has written as lengthy a piece):

“the state turned down nearly $40 million in federal dollars for a program that transitions people from nursing homes back into the community. The state has also been paying community-based providers less, reducing payments by 15 percent last year because of legislative budget cuts, the letter stated.

Yet the state implemented policies that expanded nursing home care, by offering facilities a $500 enhanced daily rate for caring for children, which is more than double than what the state pays for adults, according to the letter.”

So, it didn’t even save the State money and for nursing homes it made money.

I read the full Attorney General’s report and their demand for a response from Florida and I sobbed for two hours last night. After, I published a piece about it on BabyCenter, What’s worse: being born disabled, or in Florida? 

Readers asked if they could sign a petition against Florida’s barbarism. I’m not sure a petition will do any good against the wave of conservative ideals sweeping America. Will Florida protect its children, or its right to profit off them?

I can’t do much from the UK, but I can stand in solidarity with these parents and ask you to do the same by signing and share this petition, and see where it goes from there.

Petition to THE STATE OF FLORIDA: Return disabled children and babies to their families

5 Comments

  1. This is actually very common in the USA, and in some states in particular which have a ‘conservative’ (i.e. welfare-averse) heritage but also perhaps because of politicians’ links to the nursing home industry. It is very common for disabled adults to end up in nursing homes when they could have lived in their own homes with some support, and it is also known for the state to provide home care for minors but to withdraw it when they reach age 21 and then they have to go into a nursing home. Conditions in some nursing homes are often pretty grim; I have heard of policies that prevent adult residents going out without supervision and people with spinal cord injuries having their bowel programs done in front of their room-mates.

    (Cross-posted at the BabyCenter post)

    • Thank you for leaving this on both the blogs. I could not believe it when I read the report last night, and I am mortified that children in other states would be enduring this hardship. It is so awful.

  2. That’s absolutely heartbreaking – those poor children and families, what a crap ‘choice’ to have to make. It seems like such a throw back or something that you’d read about a developing country :(

  3. Its amazing to think that “you have it easy” compared to Florida!! Welfare programs were designed for and should be for those who can’t help themselves (like May) and not those who won’t help themselves.
    Oh, and I love that pic of May. She looks like a porcelain doll!

    • I agree Erin. The problem is that Florida’s governor doesn’t believe in welfare. He turned down $40 million to help people move from care homes like this, back in with their families. The strength of ideals over reality.

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