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Archive for October, 2011

Florida Senator Questions Department of Juvenile Justice Use of Psychotropic Drugs, Chemical Restraints on Kids

October 21st, 2011   No Comments   Uncategorized

A key senator is raising questions of the Department of Juvenile Justice apparently using psychotropic drugs and “chemical restraints” on youth in its lockup facilities statewide – and whether the state agency responds seriously enough to the issue. Agency officials have failed to acknowledge the situation, which infuriated Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs, according to WCTV-TV.

The action follows reports that some 34% of children in DJJ facilities are on psychotropic drugs, the station reported. Storms then demanded agency officials report on details of their prescribing practices and keep her updated her on their own investigation. One DJJ official said it is “against agency policy to use mind-altering drugs for discipline or punishment, which opponents of the practice describe as chemical restraint, the news organization reported.” Read the entire story here.

Florida Department of Children and Families Investigates Fort Myers Group Home

The Florida Department of Health inspected a Florida Department of Children and Families-regulated boys group home in Fort Myers after complaints if filth, cockroaches, mold and unsanitary conditions were reported. The home is for foster youth and boys with no other options.

Lee County inspectors gave the Source of Light and Home Development Center-run house a failing review, which led the state to temporarily stop placing new foster children there, the News-Press reported. One former resident, who recently aged out, said he was “grossed out.”

Soon after the DCF action, agency officials lifted the hold after inspectors gave the home an OK and the number of violations dropped to about a dozen, the paper reported. Read the entire story here.

Deaths of 8 Hillsborough Kids Raises Concerns About Privatization and DCF Oversight of Community Based Care Businesses

Eight kids dead in two years – kids who should have been protected while under the supervision of community based care provider, Hillsborough Kids Inc. The headlines out of Tampa Bay have shocked and sickened foster child advocates, attorneys and guardians concerned about the care kids receive across the state. The deaths in Tampa Bay – and others across the state have suffered serious personal injury while under the watch of similar organizations – could be a defining moment for privatization.

Read the entire story here.

Florida Foster Children’s Civil Rights Damage Award Case Used as Precedent in South Carolina Litigation

October 7th, 2011   No Comments   Abuse, Court Cases

The significant civil rights case argued by lead counsel Howard Talenfeld, partner with Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate, P.A., recently was persuasive in the 4th Circuit Court of South Carolina’s decision to change its prior decisions regarding social worker qualified immunity and substantive due process rights of foster children in Doe v. South Carolina Department of Social Services [597 F.3d 163 (4th Cir. 2010)].

In the original case, H.A.L. v. Foltz, No. 07-15791 (11th Cir. 12/15/2008) (11th Cir., 2008), the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta let stand an action brought by three young boys sexually abused by two older boys in the same Florida foster home. The court agreed in this significant civil rights case that the state had violated the children’s Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights to physical safety and to be free from an unreasonable risk of harm. Talenfeld won for his clients a settlement of $2.925 million – and a change in how the state must treat foster children.

Read the brief here.

Following Barahona, Other Abuse Incidents, Higher Stakes Require Higher Pay at Florida Department of Children and Families

Following the torture and death of Nubia Barahona, and the serious personal injury to her twin brother, Victor, the Florida Department of Children and Families should realize that high stakes involved in these cases mean “it’s high time that DCF put a higher priority on the people who make life-and-death decisions for the state’s most vulnerable citizens,” writes the Orlando Sentinel.

The stakes are high, and state legislators are realizing this. In September, they heard from – and had strong words for – new Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins for what an independent panel called “fatal ineptitude” in the Barahona abuse and death case.

With higher pay to those investigators tasked with keeping tabs on foster children might come better oversight. Read the entire story here.