Teen Girls Abused in State Care in Michigan Seized Again in Florida After Insurance Refuses to Cover Treatment
by Health Impact News/MedicalKidnap.com Staff
A battle to get insurance to cover necessary medical care for teenage sisters with bulimia nervosa has ended up with those teens being taken by Child Protective Services in Florida. Their mother is asking how it can be that an insurance company is able to direct CPS to remove children from their homes.
The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has accused Laura Dalton of “medical neglect,” but the evidence provided to Health Impact News demonstrates that she is a dedicated mother who has been working tirelessly to secure the proper treatment for her daughters. In fact, one of the twins was seized from the hospital, where her mother had taken her the week before due to her dangerously low blood pressure and pulse.
The twins have suffered eating disorders after they were put into foster care in Michigan, where they were allegedly abused. They were healthy girls prior to that time, but as a penalty for allegedly smoking marijuana one time, they were removed from their home, and that is when their real problems began.
Bulimia is a very serious eating disorder that can be life threatening. Permanent organ damage and even cardiac arrest can be a result of the binging and purging that characterize bulimia.
Laura Dalton is well aware of that fact and has been trying to get coverage for an eating disorder specialist team that many have referred them to, including doctors the girls have seen and NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Association.
Up to the day that DCF seized custody of the twins, both Laura and the director of the Body Image Counseling Center believed that the treatment was going to be approved by the insurance company CMS – Children’s Medical Services of Florida, a Medicaid program that is both state and federally funded to provide, per their website, “special services for children with special needs.”
However, it is now apparent that CMS was working behind the scenes with DCF, even attaching a medical foster care supervisor to emails between Laura and CMS.
Laura fears for her daughters’ safety. Not only is she concerned about the effect that the separation will have on her twins, but she is worried that they will not get the care that they truly need. DCF has already missed one scheduled appointment with a nutritionist since the state seized custody. She fears that they are not taking the bulimia seriously, which could have devastating consequences.
“The Twins Were Healthy” Before Being Seized by CPS
Just a few years ago, Abbie and Alexis, now 16, were thriving. The Michigan natives were on a national level competitive cheer team and cheered in front of thousands. They did well in school.
Abbie and Alexis – happy and healthy at home. Photo provided by family.
When they were 13, the family moved to a new home and a new school district. There, they got into trouble, a kind of trouble which is not uncommon among teenagers, which should never have carried with it the devastating price tag that it has cost them. They listened to some poor advice and allegedly smoked a joint. Word reached the school principle and CPS was called. As a result, the girls were seized from their home and placed into a foster home that had a reputation of being abusive. The foster parents reportedly locked up food, and the foster children in the home sometimes went without food. While their mother fought the system to try to get her children back, the twins ran away, escaping the abuse of the foster home. By the time they were located, one had developed anorexia; the other, bulimia. The state of Michigan punished their escape from abuse by adding further abuse. They were placed into juvenile detention. It was a nightmare for the family, and a huge battle for their mother to get them back home. Both girls almost died in state care.
Health Impact News followed their story, and we rejoiced when they were finally returned to their family in August of 2016, battered and beaten down, but alive.
To this day, the girls have not disclosed all of the horrors that happened to them while they were in state care. After they were returned home, both have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Like the anorexia and bulimia, PTSD is not something that they had before the Child “Protective” System took over.
The twins were healthy when CPS took them, but they were in very poor condition when they were returned to their family. In fact, our coverage of their homecoming was delayed because of their poor health and numerous hospital and doctor visits once they came home.
Because their condition was so serious, they were immediately approved for Social Security disability benefits after they returned home. Both girls were diagnosed with PTSD. Alexis was diagnosed with bulimia. Abbie has been diagnosed with both anorexia and bulimia.
Foster Children 7 Times More Likely to Develop Eating Disorders But State Will Not Cover Expenses to Treat Them
Once the girls were free, Laura Dalton had a new battle to fight – getting help for her girls who had suffered so much while they were held captive. As many other families who got their children back from foster care have reported, Abbie and Alexis experience nightmares and night terrors. They would often wake up screaming, battling unseen monsters who were holding them down. Eventually in their mother’s care, this ceased.
The once-confident teens struggled with feelings that no one cared and that they were worthless. But all that paled in comparison to the battle with the eating disorders.
Statistics show that children who have been in foster care are 7 times more likely to develop bulimia and other eating disorders. Foster children are more likely to develop PTSD than veterans of war.
Eating disorders have been called the deadliest mental illness, because they have a higher rate of mortality than any other mental disorder. (Source.)
It is vital that those suffering from anorexia or bulimia get appropriate treatment. The disorders are treatable, but many of those who suffer with them require outside help to get better. They don’t just “get over it.”
Abbie developed anorexia and bulimia in foster care. Photos supplied by family.
As common as eating disorders are in foster children, it is not common to find effective treatment for those children. The majority of children coming out of foster care rely on Medicaid for health care, and it appears that Medicaid is reluctant to cover treatment for the injuries suffered by children in state care.
It would seem that the state should be responsible for treating a condition that arose in their care, but that does not appear to be the case.
This begs the question: how many children suffering from eating disorders acquired in foster care die from those disorders because they cannot get adequate treatment?
If parents are fortunate enough to get their wounded children home, they are often forced to rely on Medicaid and government assistance. Even if they were financially well-off before CPS, the system seems designed to destroy them. Many parents lose their jobs, homes, and savings fighting for their children, paying for attorneys’ fees and required classes and therapies, and jumping through all of the ever-changing hoops imposed on them by the social workers.