Clinical experience demonstrates that many chronically ill children have an unstable course of illness ending in tertiary care, not because of extraordinary disease, but because they come from dysfunctional and neglectful households. Families frequently cannot or will not adapt to the demands of their chronically ill child. This study substantiates the extent to which neglect and family dysfunction have contributed to the need for hospitalization of asthmatic children at National Jewish. Neglect accelerates the cycle of morbidity and stress associated with illness. Using a measure of global functioning, we demonstrate a psychologic morbidity associated with medical neglect. We discuss children at imminent risk in their home environment and the process of seeking alternative placements. We acknowledge gaps in delivery of health care to this difficult, treatment-resistant population and encourage development of day treatment and home outreach programs.