TUG OF WAR

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Attorneys for a disabled teenager filed a motion in State Supreme Court last week, arguing that she was placed in an “unduly restrictive” nursing home by the agencies charged with her care. New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) took action against both the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) and the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD), which are locked in a bitter legal dispute of their own. In 2004, ACS sued OMRDD, demanding that the state provide immediate placements for foster children with severe disabilities. According to the NYLPI complaint, “L.J.” was caught between the feuding agencies, and ultimately placed in a Long Island nursing home that provides little in the way of education or training in independent life skills. “L.J. and other children like her have suffered grave harm because of the illegal practices of ACS and OMRDD,” it states. OMRDD could not be reached for comment. ACS spokesperson Sharman Stein said her agency was finalizing a new policy governing the use of nursing homes. ACS, she said, is already operating under the draft policy, which states that such placements are appropriate “only after careful consideration of the child’s needs and a determination that there is no less restrictive level of facility that meets those needs.” The city’s Law Department declined to discuss L.J.’s case directly, but briefly described its ongoing suit against OMRDD: “We have a serious, important disagreement with the state about how these kids should be handled,” said Alan Kleinman, senior council in the Law Department’s Affirmative Litigation Division. “My job is to handle this as quickly as possible.” (C. Feldman) [2/27/06]