Monkey Business As Usual for the DCF, or the statistics speak for themselves

There is an interesting article that just came out from Daytona Beach on the drugging of foster children in Florida situation. This article entitled, Child’s suicide raises medication questions, is interesting for a number of reasons. A couple of critics of over-prescribing are allowed to voice their concerns in this article. This is relatively new. Usually it’s been only the voice of the agency and its cronies speaking. Statistics regarding one community’s institution in particular are revealed in this article. You can also get a grasp, reading between the lines, on how big a problem we face.

The secretary of the Department of Children & Families, George Sheldon, is up to his usual shenanigans.

“I’m not anti-medication, but I think it is a last resort,” Sheldon said.

(Note: I’ve heard him say the same thing, word for word, before.)

The issue in Florida is one of over-prescribing. Over-prescribing takes place when psychiatric drugs are not used as ‘a last resort’. Certain parties within the DCF seem to want to make this a procedural matter, but it is not a procedural matter. It’s a statistical matter. Drug fewer foster children in the future than you have been in the past, and you are doing something about it. It’s not about how the drugs are administered; it’s about how many children are prescribed drugs.

I feel the focus of the efforts being made to correct the situation here are often getting lost, and that the efforts being made are such as to try the show the department in a good light at the expense of the children of Florida. Just to illustrate, using stats from the article itself, It was 2005 when the law was changed, now look at the stats as of then. In 2005/2006, 289 children are admitted under the Baker Act to Halifax Behavioral Services; in 2008/2009, this figure is up to 845 children. What’s going on here? I think the mental health authorities are going, well, we don’t want any foster children drugged voluntarily anymore, if that’s the problem, so we’re going to drug them involuntarily. All the papers will be taken care of then, consent forms and so forth, we aren’t breaking the laws enacted in 2005, and so who’s to complain.

You’re drugged children rate almost tripled during this time. Obviously the problem of over-diagnosing and over-prescribing to foster children is not being handled in an effective manner. The illusion is that this is about children who are a danger to themselves and others. Hello? There aren’t that many dangerous children in the entire United States! When researchers begin to look at the ratio of foster children to children in the general population, this disparity we started out with is likely to show a dramatic increase.

What if another child dies? Maybe we can confuse people. Alright, we’ve been given a task to do, yippee! Let’s do the opposite…again.