Florida’s Legislators Discuss Foster Children Drugging

According to an article in Jacksonville’s The Florida Times-Union, state legislators in Tallahassee say they want to push through laws to protect Florida’s foster children from psychiatric drug treatment that lacks consent. State officials acknowledged the lack of enforcement of their previous legislation efforts, and there are some concerns that this drive to enact more laws might have similar results.

But even as they pledged action, committee members and officials with DCF acknowledged that the state has tried before to get handle on the number of children taking psychiatric drugs and how the state goes about getting approval for those children to use the medications.

“It’s the same problem over and over and over again,” said Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico. Storms said legislators would need to follow up on any laws it passes to ensure that the initiative would be more successful than past changes to the law.

Questions of responsibility and guilt naturally arise in who to target with this legislation.

Some lawmakers were also interested in tracking any agreements or incentives physicians might get from pharmaceutical companies for prescribing certain drugs. Sen. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, compared it to schools that get incentives from soda or junk-food makers for allowing vending machines in schools.

The article closes by suggesting another one of those targets needs to be foster parents.

Hey, wait a minute, do you ever feel like somebody is blowing smoke in your face?

I get the idea that the discussion here is a little misdirected, and it’s no wonder. A lot of the blame can be laid directly at the feet of the Department of Children and Families, and the DCF is leading efforts to come up with a solution. Uh, the obvious conflict of interest involved is only the beginning of the complications this situation sows.

Focus, focus, and more focus, please! Why enact more laws if you’re not going to enforce the ones you’ve got? Let’s take a look at what this is all about.

1. The percentage of foster children on psychiatric drugs was dramatically higher than the percentage of children in general on psychiatric drugs.

2. The 2005 law enacted to do something about this disparity wasn’t being enforced. Children were being prescribed drugs without the required consent being attained from parents or the court in violation of this law.

3. When we prosecute people who break the law, the law is less likely to be broken. People in this case meaning people who work for the DCF. We need to stiffen the penalties of the law, if need be, and then we need to see that it is strictly enforced.

I know we’re always going to have a problem expecting the DCF to police itself, as we are here, and so maybe we need to drag some real police officers into the doctor’s office. It doesn’t help to have our legislators lose sight of the problem, and by extension, any real solution, and I dread to think of the ultimate result of this kind of muddled thinking. I imagine we could be letting the DCF get away with murder again, and the murder here would be of yet another Gabriel Myers.

When this next child has died, what do we do? Do we enact more laws, and then neglect to enforce those laws we enact? Again?

No, let’s put the bite back into our legislation, and let’s make sure that this legislation is directed at the problem we have at hand, and not at something else. The problem is the number of foster children on psychiatric drugs, and the aim must be to reduce that number of children on drugs. The way to achieve this aim is through the enacting of effective legislation, and the enforcing of this legislation. If the legislation isn’t enforced, well, it can’t be effective.

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One Response

  1. Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..I”ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work! 🙂

    – Marc Shaw

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