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Posts Tagged ‘Psychotropic’

Florida Governor, Legislature Must Curtail Use of ‘Chemical Restraints’ on Foster Children

“It seems to be a prerequisite for foster children to be on medication.”

These words were spoken by the adoptive father of two 12-year Florida girls. And the reality he spoke of just shouldn’t be the case.

As Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was barnstorming the state discussing Florida’s successes in fostering adoptions, Mirko Ceska was telling the governor about the continued prevalence of psychotropic drugs in the lives of foster kids and others in the state’s care. Read the Miami Herald article here.

Powerful psychotropic should not be used as “chemical restraints” for minor foster children. But such use is widespread instead of behavioral approaches designed to address the real losses in their lives. (more…)

Florida Today: Sanction Doctors, Child Workers Who Ignore Rules in Prescribing Psychiatric Drugs

Florida Today writes about the Florida Department of Children and Families study of compliance by physicians and case workers with regard to legal rules related to prescribing mental health drugs to foster care kids. The publication commented that they report was “disturbing and demands action.”

The conclusions — of both the study and Florida Today’s editors — are correct: The practice is too widespread, with too little oversight.

Yet this should be just a starting point. If it were to conduct a similar study, I believe the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities ( APD ) would arrive at similar conclusions, namely that group home operators often are administering these medications without the proper power of consent from families or guardians, and physicians aren’t obtaining appropriate histories and conducting appropriate physical or behavioral examinations.

The improper use of psychotropic medications has hit near epidemic proportions in the Florida foster care and group home setting. The public first realized this with the April suicide of Gabriel Myers, 7, and weeks later, with a wrongful death lawsuit filed following the overdose of Denis Martez, 12.

Florida Today’s editorial helps raise public awareness of this important issue. We all should keep awareness high so we can remedy this serious situation. Read the full editorial here.

Sun-Sentinel: Child’s Death Exposes a Big Problem in Foster-Care Reform

THE ISSUE: Child’s death exposes a big problem in foster-care reform.

Sun Sentinel Editorial Board

It wasn’t that long ago when the Florida Department of Children & Families was seen as a hapless bureaucracy. Whether it was their seeking to incarcerate an 8-year-old to ensure he received proper care, or simply losing youngsters supposedly under its care, it didn’t take much for DCF to make a mockery of its role in child welfare.

The good news is that DCF is no longer that troubled agency. Unfortunately, many of those problems that once bedeviled DCF now belong to those local nonprofits and government agencies that are under contract with the state to provide foster care and other child protective services. Thank community-based care for that. (more…)

Florida Department of Children and Families’ Role ‘Should’ be to Protect Foster Kids

By Brian J. Cabrey

As published as a letter to the editor in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The April 16 suicide death of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers, a foster child in the custody and care of the Florida Department of Children and Families, shocks the conscience. Gabriel apparently hung himself with the shower hose in the bathroom of his foster home in Margate.

The victim of sexual abuse, as well as other abuse and neglect that resulted in him being removed from his family and placed in foster care, Gabriel had been prescribed a variety of mind-altering psychotropic medications while in foster care to deal with the myriad behavioral problems he was experiencing, no doubt largely the result of the abuse he had suffered. Reports are that he was on three or four different drugs, or combinations thereof, at the time of his death.

What is almost as shocking to the conscience as a 7-year-old wanting to, knowing how to and actually committing suicide, is that a 7-year-old would be on not just one, but multiple psychotropic medications. Most such drugs have never been tested for pediatric use, and have not been FDA-approved for such use. Their prescription and use with kids is generally “off label,” meaning there are no approved instructions or guidelines for such use. (more…)

Attorneys: Florida Agency for Persons With Disabilities Must Curtail Psychotropic Use in APD Residential Facilities

June 4th, 2009   No Comments   Foster Care, Psychotropic

Psychotropic medications used without appropriate consent of parents and guardians has hit near epidemic proportions in the Florida foster care and group home setting. The public first realized this with the suicide of Gabriel Myers, 7, and weeks later, with a wrongful death lawsuit filed following the overdose of Denis Martez, 12.

The situation needs improved oversight — and the practice must stop.

In the following letter to Jim DeBeaugrine, Director of the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities, attorneys Howard Talenfeld and Maria Elena Abate, partners with the Fort Lauderdale law firm Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate, P.A., call for Mr. DeBeaugrine to survey all licensed group homes working with his Agency as a first step in curtailing such use.

See the original letter here.

June 4, 2009
Jim DeBeaugrine, Director
Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities
Tallahassee, FL  32399

Re:  Death of Dennis Maltez–Investigation of Psychotropic Drug Use in Group Homes

Dear Director DeBeaugrine,

As attorneys for the estate of Denis Maltez, and long-time advocates for the rights of society’s most vulnerable citizens, we are very concerned about the role psychotropic drugs played in his death from serotonin syndrome. I know that you are quite familiar with this case as your agency took emergency action and suspended the license of Rainbow Ranches, in part because of the inappropriate use of such drugs. (more…)

Florida Foster Children Get Too Many Psychotropic Drugs With Too Little Oversight from State DCF

June 1st, 2009   No Comments   Foster Care, Psychotropic

Gabriel Myers (image from Florida DCF)The Florida Department of Children and Families Work Group issued its report on the role psychotropic medications played in the April suicide of Gabriel Myers – and the results were stark and unacceptable.

In the report issued this week, the DCF reported that 2,669 of Florida’s 20,235 foster children under the age of 17 were given one or more psychotropic drugs – with one in six, or about 16 percent, lacking required permissions. Some 73 kids 5 or younger are on the drugs.

Most shocking: Florida passed a law in 2005 requiring parental consent or a judge’s approval before administering psychotropic drugs.

Why is this important? These powerful psychological and mood-altering medications are used to control children’s behavior often in lieu of appropriate behavioral interventions. Many are often prescribed even though there is no FDA approval and there are significant side effects, including depression that could lead to suicide. Thus, they must be administered in appropriate situations where behavioral interventions have been exhausted, with a court order and under the close supervision of prescribing physicians well versed with the individual child’s health and care regimen. (more…)

Florida DCF Releases Report on Psychotropic Drug Use in Foster Children

Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon discussed the Department’s Psychotherapeutic Drug Status Report at a media conference this week.

The report was compiled by DCF staff at the request of Secretary Sheldon following the apparent suicide of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers on April 16 in Margate. (Access the Report Here)

Following a full review of Gabriel’s case files, officials determined that he had been prescribed several psychotropic drugs that had not been accurately reflected in the DCF database that contains case notes and histories of foster care children.

Additionally, there was no indication of a signed parental consent form or a court order authorizing the administration of the drugs, as required.

Among the findings: (more…)

Mother’s Suit Seeks Justice for Autistic Son Killed by ‘Psychotropic Cocktail’

May 21st, 2009   1 Comment   Damage Claims, Psychotropic
Denis Martez and mother, Martha Quesada.

Denis Martez and mother, Martha Quesada.

Martha Quesada shed tears but was the poignant focal point of a press conference this week as she discussed her demands for justice for the death of her 12-year-old autistic son, Denis Martez.

His cause of death, according to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner: Central Serotonergic Syndrome. This resulted from “the co-administration of multiple psychotropic medications with no monitoring or supervision,” the lawsuit claims.

“This is a clear case of a 12-year-child who perished because he was given a lethal combination of off-label, dangerous, anti-psychotic drugs to control his behavior without appropriate consent, administration and supervision.” said Howard Talenfeld, Quesada’s attorney and partner with Fort Lauderdale law firm, Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate, P.A., in Fort Lauderdale. Partner Maria Elena Abate is co-counsel on the case.

“Tragically, this case is one of many cases where foster children and developmentally disabled children are given powerful drug to control their behavior instead of utilizing appropriate behavioral interventions,” Talenfeld said. “This is an important first step in seeking remedy for Ms. Quesada’s loss, and raising awareness of the cavalier prescription, administration  of medications to control behavior with little regard for possible counter-indications or devastating results.” (more…)

Florida DCF Secretary Sheldon Convenes Psychotropics & Foster Kids Workgroup

Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary George H. Sheldon today announced that the Department is establishing a workgroup to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the tragic death of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers. Gabriel died on April 16 when police indicated he apparently hanged himself in the shower of his foster parents’ Margate home.

At issue: The level of use of psychotropic and psycho-therapeutic medications among foster care children.


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Florida Foster Care Round-Up: Leekin Damage Suit for Fraud — & Kids Failed by the System

A 7-year-old foster child, a career criminal and the Florida Department of Children and Families led the headlines regarding the foster care and child welfare arena across Florida and the nation over the past few weeks. Here are summaries of some of those and other stories…

In one of the biggest stories, The New York Times reported on April 30 in Suit Contends City Failed to Prevent Adoption Fraud, how lawyers contended in a lawsuit that New York City violated the rights of 10 disabled children who were adopted more than a decade ago by Judith Leekin, a former Queens woman now in a Florida jail and who abused them and used government subsidies meant for their care to support a lavish lifestyle.

The Miami Herald on April 30 wrote State probes apparent suicide of foster child, 7, an opening reporting salvo by journalists and columnists in what we expect to be a very chilling and alarming case – that of Gabriel Myers, the boy who took his own life at a Broward County foster home after a stormy nine-month odyssey through the state foster-care system and the questionable use of psychotropic drugs used to quell problem children.

(more…)

Stop Warehousing Florida’s Foster Children

May 4th, 2009   1 Comment   Foster Care

By Brian J. Cabrey, Esq.

The April 16 suicide death of 7 year old Gabriel Myers, a foster child in the custody and care of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), shocks the conscience.

Little Gabriel apparently hung himself with the shower hose in the bathroom of his foster home in Margate, Florida. The victim of sexual abuse, as well as other abuse and neglect that resulted in him being removed from his family and placed in foster care, Gabriel had been prescribed a variety of mind altering psychotropic medications while in foster care to deal with the myriad behavioral problems he was experiencing, no doubt largely the result of the abuse he had suffered. Reports are that he was on 3 or 4 different drugs, or combinations thereof, at the time of his death, all at the tender age of 7.

What is almost as shocking to the conscience as a 7 year old wanting to, knowing how to, and actually committing suicide, is that a 7-year-old would be on not just one, but multiple psychotropic medications. (more…)

Florida DCF Workgroup to Research Death of Foster Child, Gabriel Myers

Department of Children and Families Secretary Convenes Workgroup to Evaluate Circumstances Surrounding Death of 7-year-old in Foster Care

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary George H. Sheldon today announced that the Department is establishing a  workgroup to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the tragic death of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers.

Gabriel died on April 16 when police indicated he apparently hanged himself in the shower of his foster parents’ Margate home.

Following Gabriel’s death, the Department of Children and Families petitioned the court to release case files and notes relating to the child while in state care. Normally, case files are only made public following a death that is verified as a result of abuse or neglect, per Florida Statutes. However, DCF believed it was in the public interest to open the records to public scrutiny. A judge agreed and the petition was granted on April 22, 2009. (more…)