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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.

As the Herald reported in another story,  “Drugging Kids is the Easy Way Out,” the reporter wrote that, “Kids in foster care carry profound pain…This pain often is revealed in various ways: anger, depression, rebelliousness and violence. For the state, it’s easier and less expensive to sedate them with medication than to help them heal.” Read the full article here.

As was reported by the Associated Press, George Sheldon, the secretary of the Department of Children and Families, recommended “stricter rules for prescribing powerful anti-depressants and other drugs to foster children after a 7-year-old in state care committed suicide.” The AP noted that Sheldon said “he might consider recommending additional review for all children in state custody on such medications and the appointment of a new in-house state medical director to keep tabs on cases.” Read the full article here.

The state is making headway. It is momentum that must be sustained to help protect the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

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