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Posts Tagged ‘Legislature’

Florida DCF Secretary Sheldon Says Agency Changing Culture

September 3rd, 2009   1 Comment   Rights of Foster Children

This article from the News Service of Florida reveals Florida Department of Children & Families Secretary George Sheldon’s belief that the agency at the center of state foster care issues is changing its culture.

“Gov. Crist made it very clear that if you make a mistake, admit it and try to fix it,’’ Sheldon said.

“Despite recent critical reports, Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon said this week that he is convinced the beleaguered agency is beginning to change a long-engrained culture,” the article began. “A recently-completed internal report raises questions as to whether the agency has the right kind of employees who are willing to use common sense to avoid ongoing mistakes, such as one that came to light with the suicide of a 7-year-old child in South Florida.

“These mistakes wind up costing taxpayers millions of dollars because the state ends up settling lawsuits that accuse the agency of negligence.”

See the entire article here…

Florida DCF Making Strides In Foster Care Issues

The Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) has made strides of late, both in recognizing the need for — and furthering its protections of — children in the state’s foster care program.

But it has much to do and still farther to go. In a story, DCF Report Rips Way Kids Get Meds by the Fort Myers News-Press, Stan Appelbaum, chairman of the Local Advocacy Council for mental health, said “I’m not a happy camper with the way medications are being used. The first thing that I’d take away from this review is that it’s not a perfect system.” The article also called medicating children in state care an “unregulated, haphazard process in which drugs are prescribed to help caregivers calm difficult children instead of treating them,” according to an initial state review.

As the Miami Herald recently reported: A panel found that “Florida’s mental health system for foster kids relies far too often on drugs, with little oversight, according to a draft report on the suicide of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers.” Read the full article here. (more…)

FlaBar President Diner Makes Legal Representation of Foster Children a Critical Priority

For far too long, Florida foster children haved needed their own voice and legal counsel in their own dependency case and now before other state and local agencies that make critical decisions that critically affect their lives.

Representation should be of primary concern. Currently, only 60-80% of children in the dependency system are represented by the GAL program – and very few by attorneys. Quality representation of each child in foster care, before School Boards, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and the Agency for Healthcare Administration, to name a few agencies, may be the single most important step we can take to positively impact the lives of foster children.

This year, Jesse Diner, President-Elect of the Florida Bar, has placed among his highest priorities taking the recommendations of the 2002 Commission on the Legal Needs of Children and introducing legislation to create a Statewide Office of the Children’s Advocate.

My appointment this May to chair the Florida Bar Association’s Legal Needs of Children Committee is part of that goal. Our committee will help write legislative language and seek passage of laws and regulations critical to fulfilling the state’s mandate to serve the best interests of the children in its care. (more…)

Message to Florida Legislators: Protect the Children

January 5th, 2009   No Comments   Funding

This is an editorial from today’s Ft. Myers News Press. As the Florida Legislature begins a special session, the needs of certain residents should be kept far from the chopping block…

Legislators seeking ways to save money should save the children and spare  the most vulnerable residents from cuts.

That’s our mantra as the Florida Legislature begins a challenging two-week special session today to plug a gaping $2.3 billion shortfall in the current  budget.

With the economy blowing holes in the spending plans of every government, business, family and organization in the country, it’s with great reluctance  that we urge any spending program be kept off the cutting table.

But we do so for child protective services, mostly under the Department of Children and Families-and we urge you to contact our leaders in Tallahassee and do the same.

It’s not that education, health, law enforcement, roads, seniors and the environment aren’t essential service areas. They are, but the protection of vulnerable children cannot be diminished or postponed until the economy recovers. It’s a society’s most basic moral responsibility, as we see it. (more…)