Developmentally disabled children and institutionalization

ARC Gateway was saddened to learn, through the ARC of Florida, that the state might have institutionalized hundreds of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities in nursing homes for years.

A series of letters between Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez and lawyers for the state suggest some children have lived in nursing facilities for more than a decade. The Justice Department’s latest letter accuses Florida of refusing to cooperate with its investigation and threatens to file a lawsuit.

While visiting facilities across Florida, the Justice Department discovered families who felt they had no choice but to place their children in nursing homes. Ironically, the state will pay for their institutionalization, but it will not provide the funding to support less expensive programs that would allow the children to remain in their homes with their families.

Isolating children with intellectual and developmental disabilities in nursing homes violates their civil rights. More importantly, children do not belong in nursing homes. Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed this position in its 1999 Olmstead v. L.C. ruling, which said the Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from being institutionalized.

It should be noted that though the current administration did not cause these problems, it certainly has the opportunity (and responsibility) to correct them.

It saddens my heart and deeply distresses me that the state of Florida would allow such treatment of a child. Though none of these instances have occurred in northwest Florida, ARC Gateway stands in support of these children and The Arc of Florida. Collectively, we urge both sides not to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on a lawsuit. Let’s get these children out of nursing homes and back home with their families.

Donna Fassett
Executive director, ARC Gateway



Thank you to Christmas elves

More than 2,000 abused, neglected and at-risk children served by ChildrenÂ’s Home Society of Florida in Santa Rosa, Escambia, Okaloosa and Walton counties will have a more magical Christmas thanks to many generous local elves. 

CHS extends deep gratitude to the many individual and family donors, our Board of Directors and these group sponsors: American Legion Auxiliary, Ascension Health Ministry, G.R. Aycock, Beulah Free Will Baptist Church, Breeze Cinema 8, Brown Helicopter, Buffalo Rock Pepsi, Clear Channel, Coca-Cola, Dlux Printing, Emerald Coast Women’s Club, Federal Prison Camp, Firehouse Subs, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, For the Love of Jake, GBSI, Gulf Breeze United Methodist Advent Angels Ministry, Hatch Mott MacDonald, Helping Hearts (Anastazia & Ezekiel), Hope Counseling Services, Island House Hotel, James Fulton Nobles Interiors, Justine Simoni, Medical Center Clinic, McMahon-Hadder Insurance, Navy Information Operations Command, Pensacola Quilter‚s Guild, Picard-Dannheisser Family Foundation, Progressive Insurance, Quinn Insurance, Ridge Cinema 8, Marilyn Ricks Family, Judith V. Rosenmarkle, Switzer Family, The Club at Hidden Creek, Lee Tracy, Traff Transit, State Farm, United Rentals, USPS, University Hills Health and Rehabilitation, Wal-Mart, Waterboyz, West Pensacola Optimist Club, White Sands Jeep Club, Willowood Neighborhood Association and YMCA of Northwest Florida.

Our communityÂ’s support and love for children is overwhelming. Thanks can never be enough.

Gay Deese
ChildrenÂ’s Home Society of Florida



Support our planters



Dear Mayor Thompson and City Council members:

This week I heard that plans have been approved to remove the Main Street Milton planters from downtown. I am very curious as to what the reasoning is behind this action. I drive through downtown almost daily and always admire the flowers and am grateful to the MSM members who I see seasonally replanting and regularly tending the plants. I have discussed this action with many folks I know and find that everyone agrees with me that these planters add so much beauty to our downtown streets, and we all fail to see what justification there might be for removing them.

Larger cities tax their citizens for this service, and if that were the case, I could see removing them because of the cost. In our case, Milton is lucky to have a nonprofit organization able and willing to maintain the planters — it is my understanding that all the city has to do is provide irrigation, and even getting that done has been a struggle.

As much as I hate to think this is true, it appears that this action is another chapter in an ongoing personal vendetta against the members of Main Street Milton. I am increasingly disappointed to see this kind of petty behavior on the part of so many people I have admired and respected since I was a child.

I am most interested to hear what you have to say regarding this matter.

Susan Beasley
Milton