Disability Rights Advocates Sue Maryland Agencies For Holding Foster Children In Hospitals Beyond Medical Necessity

Exterior of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Photo by Photra99 via Flickr.

What’s happening?

Disability rights advocates are suing the Maryland Department of Human Services, the state health department, and other state agencies for “illegally and unconstitutionally” holding foster children in hospitals and other medical institutions beyond necessity, Liz Bowie and Hallie Miller report for the Baltimore Banner. 

The 90-page complaint filed by attorneys for Disability Rights Maryland and Venable LLP alleges the state agencies violated children’s rights and failed to provide adequate services for children with a range of behavioral health needs. 

What prompted the legal action?

The lawsuit is the latest development in an ongoing fight against the state’s practice, which relegates foster children with behavioral and psychiatric health needs to hospitals where they wait for weeks or months and are restricted from education and other activities. 

In the complaint, the attorneys allege that mental health services for foster children were decimated under previous Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration. Under Hogan’s tenure, the federal government passed legislation aimed at deinstitutionalizing foster children—a practice meant to help foster children stay out of behavioral hospitals, juvenile centers, and other institutions and receive more resources in their homes and schools. The law limited the state’s ability to send children to centers outside of Maryland, and Hogan’s critics claimed the state failed to create enough in-state placement options for children who need more care. 

Anything else I should know?

The lawsuit follows earlier reporting that more than 10 percent of children 12 and younger with psychiatric issues waited in the emergency room for more than a day before receiving treatment, as psychiatric facilities across the state lacked room for new patients. 

You can read more here. 

45 thoughts on “Disability Rights Advocates Sue Maryland Agencies For Holding Foster Children In Hospitals Beyond Medical Necessity”

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