9 Investigates changes to Florida's care for disabled children



ORLANDO, Fla. - 9 Investigates has learned there will be changes after one of our most alarming investigations last year exposed concerns that medically needy kids were "warehoused" in Florida nursing homes.

 According to investigators, some of those children had been left there for years.

Edgewater mother Sue Root worried that cuts to her family's state-paid nursing hours could force her severely disabled daughter into the cheaper option: a nursing home for the elderly.

Federal investigators said last September, it has happened.  They wrote, Florida "fails to meet its obligations under federal laws...by unnecessarily institutionalizing hundreds of children with disabilities in nursing facilities." 

It was, those investigators said, a "violation of the children's civil rights."

But now, state health officials said they're taking action.  The lynchpin of the state's new plan would be so-called "care coordinators," who would be assigned to severely disabled children in nursing homes. 

Those coordinators would be trained nurses, who would determine what care is appropriate for each child and would help families find other options.

"I think they're trying to put a band aid on a very big wound," said Root.

Root said she is also not convinced that children "on the edge" of institutionalization, like her own daughter, will see anything change. 

After all, the head of the Agency for Healthcare Administration insists she did not find any of the problems those federal investigators did.