Miami Herald Don't bend the law when giving foster kids drugs OUR OPINION: A new DCF study shows 2005 law ignored, endangering kids
July 15, 2009
Gabriel Myers was a 7-year-old boy whose world was collapsing when he hanged himself in a foster home in Margate. He was among 268 children between the ages of 6 and 7 medicated while in state care.
A new state study looking at whether these children were treated according to the law points to a total disregard of the law by a majority of case workers and medical professionals making life-and-death decisions. The irony is case workers now are employed by private firms under contract with the state. Weren't they supposed to do better by Florida's children than the old system of state workers?
In Gabriel's case, the boy was getting an adult anti-depressant known by the medical community to be linked to suicides in children. A 2005 law requires more information sharing among case workers and medical and legal authorities, parental involvement and the review of doctors' prescriptions to kids in state care.
Yet in 86 percent of the cases studied, the doctor prescribing the drugs didn't complete a treatment plan so that case workers, legal guardians and judges could better determine a child's mental health.
In 75 percent of cases, the case workers didn't provide the doctor sufficient medical information about the child getting treatment. Nor were parents informed about the psychotropic drugs their children were taking in 76 percent of the cases.
The Department of Children & Families' study about the lackadaisical use of medication for children shows the agency is taking seriously its mission to protect kids. It should follow through with hefty sanctions for those who ignored the law.
One little boy already has paid the ultimate price for the disregard of those who were supposed to care for him.