Florida Legislators Act On Over Drugging of Children in Foster Care

A bill has been introduced in an effort to try and put a lid on the over drugging of foster children in Florida.

We get the the following from an article, Regulations sought for foster kids prescribed psychiatric drugs, in today’s Miami Herald.

A new bill, filed Friday by state Sen. Ronda Storms, a Brandon Republican, would, among other things, require that foster children assent to the use of psychiatric drugs. The proposed law would require caseworkers to explain to children, in a manner they can understand, why the drugs are necessary and what risks they carry.

Sounds good thus far, but we will have to see if this bill passes, and then we will have to see if it is enforced.

Storms’ bill requires the state to appoint guardians ad litem, or volunteer lay guardians. Storms said the guardians are qualified for the role because they already are involved in the children’s lives.

Rosenberg, who was a member of the Gabriel Myers Work Group, said “the work group concluded that attorneys are best suited to protect children’s interests when prescribing medication,” she said.

The bill would also:

• Prohibit children in state care from being involved in clinical trials designed to determine the safety or efficacy of drugs that have not yet been approved by the FDA.

• Require an independent medication review before psychiatric drugs can be administered to children 10 or younger.

• Require mental-health professionals to prepare an overall treatment plan, including the use of counseling and therapy, when children are prescribed psychiatric drugs.

I have a problem with this legislation already. The problem with the previous bill that was passed into law in 2005 is that the law was being circumvented by mental health professionals and the Department of Children and Families. The result of this lack of regulation was Gabriel Myers death and a further round legislative haggling. Without penalties being exacted against law breakers, how are we going to insure that the law is being kept? Do we rely on the good word of the DCF alone? The DCF was one of the parties getting around the letter of the law!

Storms said she thought the prescribing of such drugs has become a crutch for therapists, who are eschewing traditional couch chats with children. Research shows, she said, that some doctors are writing one prescription for a child every three minutes.

Obviously we need to get doctors to stop prescribing drugs to so many children. I don’t see how this is going to be done without going after doctors who over prescribe drugs to children in foster care. Taking a doctor’s license to practice medicine away is a good beginning, putting the offending doctor behind bars is an even more effective deterrent.

Legislators have pointed out that this bill will fail if money isn’t set aside to pay for it.

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