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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

State Hurts Mentally Ill Kids, Class Claims

SEATTLE (CN) - Washington state declared in 2002 that mentally ill children on Medicaid need in-home and community based health services instead of "cycling in and out of hospitals, juvenile detention centers, long-term psychiatric institutions, and foster care placements that may be hundreds of miles away from their homes and families," but has done nothing to make that happen, a class action claims in Federal Court.

The class claims that many medical services the children need "may become available only if the child's parent relinquishes custody to the foster care system, tearing the child away from a caring and loving family environment and introducing further instability."

Failure to provide the services increases the "and in many cases ensur(es) that the children will be hospitalized and/or enter the "juvenile delinquency system," according to the complaint.

Guardians of 10 institutionalized children say the kids suffer from "family separation and instability, including homelessness, eviction, foster care placement, and out-of-state placement, repeated and avoidable hospitalizations, unnecessary and harmful juvenile detention, segregation through unnecessary, prolonged and often harmful institutionalization, and worsening mental and physical health conditions contributing to their decline socially, academically and in daily living."

For institutionalized children under 21, the class sued Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services Susan Dreyfus.

They want declaratory and injunctive relief to enforce the Medicaid Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the 14th Amendment, so that intensive home and community based services will be provided.

The complaint was filed by Regan Bailey with Disability Rights Washington and Susan Foster with Perkins Coie.

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