Tampa Teen Dies after Florida Child Welfare Authorities Remove Her from Disabled Mother’s Care

A Tampa mother is reportedly mourning the loss of her disabled child who died not long after the State of Florida took custody of the teenager. According to the 59-year-old mother, the last time she saw her daughter alive was 12 hours prior to her death when she was loaded into an ambulance bound for Miami. The screaming girl reportedly rode alone in the back of an ambulance because her mother was not allowed to accompany her on the five hour trip. The daughter allegedly died the following morning due to dehydration and cardiac arrest.

Ironically, child welfare authorities reportedly removed the daughter from her mother’s home over concerns regarding whether the single mother could properly care for the child. The mother suffers from six herniated discs in her back and a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. Despite a judge’s order and her mother’s pleas, the child who suffered from cerebral palsy and a deadly seizure disorder was placed in state custody and institutionalized.

According to a Miami Herald report, the mother became the subject of investigation after a home health aide made what later turned out to be a false report regarding the care the daughter was receiving at home. The daughter was purportedly removed to Tampa General Hospital pending the outcome of the investigation. About one month before she died, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Vivian Corvo applauded the care her mother provided. Judge Corvo ordered that the daughter be returned home and round the clock in-home nursing care be provided using state Medicaid insurance. Still, the state allegedly refused to return the daughter to her mother’s care and instead transported her to a Miami nursing home.

The mother is one of the approximately 4.1 million disabled parents throughout America who too often struggle to retain custody of their children. Nationwide, removal rates due to a parent’s physical disability are reportedly about 13 percent. For psychiatric disabilities, the rate allegedly climbs as high as 80 percent. In fact, two-thirds of states allow a child to be removed from a parent’s home based solely on parental disability. Although Florida law does not allow termination of parental rights on disability grounds alone, the mother’s physical disability may have played a role in the state’s custody decision here.

Who will care for your kids following divorce is an emotional topic and many parents worry about losing custody of their children. Sadly, disabled parents are reportedly at an increased risk for just such an outcome. In Florida, a family law judge will take into account a number of statutory factors when considering any child custody and visitation agreement or dispute. If you have questions regarding child custody matters, you should contact a skilled family lawyer to discuss your situation.

Attorney Sandy T. Fox is an experienced Broward County family lawyer who focuses his practice exclusively on family law matters. Mr. Fox is available to help you with all of your family law needs including child custody, adoption, alimony, divorce, legal separation, child support, domestic violence, paternity, and prenuptial agreements. He represents clients who are located throughout South Florida. To speak with a hardworking family law advocate today, please contact the Law Office of Sandy T. Fox through our website or give us a toll free call at (800) 596-0579.

More Blog Posts:

U.S. Supreme Court Challenge to Same-Sex Marriage Ban May Affect Florida Residents, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, December 21, 2012
Disabled Parents in Florida and Nationwide Often Face Uphill Battle in Child Custody Matters, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, December 14, 2012
Additional Resources:

Florida Teen Dies After Disabled Mom Loses Custody, by Susan Donaldson James, abcnews.go.com