Florida Task Force Recommendations On Foster Child Drugging

The panel on foster children drugging is back with its recommendations. According to an article in a Jacksonville newspaper:

A task force investigating the apparent suicide of a 7-year-old foster child approved a list of nearly 100 recommendations concerning the use of psychiatric medications by foster children Thursday as the examination of the hanging death of Gabriel Myers continues.

I’m a little leery about all this feigned excitement, and I’m thinking de ja vu.

The panel called for several measures to toughen accountability in the dispensing of psychotropic drugs and making sure the medications aren’t the only part of a child’s therapy.

Members of the working group also called for the Legislature to devote more resources, including the creation of a chief medical officer for the Department of Children & Families, to keep an eye on treatment for foster children.

My feeling is that if you want to really get somewhere on this sort of thing you are going to need to punish law breakers. I haven’t gotten the idea that they intend to penalize anybody yet.

Here’s where it gets sticky:

[Jim] Sewell [task force head] said the panel’s recommendations, which are being put into final form after an hours-long meeting Thursday to hammer out the details, focus less on whether the psychiatric medications are over-prescribed than whether they are “properly prescribed.”

“We don’t say the drugs are completely bad,” Sewell said. “Medications are useful … when they’re part of dealing with the child’s overall issues.”

But Sewell said part of the solution is making sure the department employees follow existing laws and rules.

Suddenly the focus is on something besides what the furor was all about in the first place. Foster children were being prescribed drugs at a greater rate than children in general. The suggestion here seems to be that that’s okay as long as procedural matters are taken care of.

It isn’t.

If the solution is to make sure department employees follow existing laws and rules, the way to get them to do so is by arresting them if they break the law, and firing them if they can’t follow rules.

I get the idea we’re just waiting for the next dead child to turn up and send these folks back to Tallahassee.

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