Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lawmakers push to curb medicating foster children


Lawmakers push to curb medicating foster children

Mental-health drugs for foster children would be limited under a legislative proposal being considered in Tallahassee.

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

A year after a seven-year-old boy heavily medicated on powerful psychiatric drugs hanged himself in his Margate foster home, lawmakers are pushing to reform state medical requirements for foster children.

The Senate's Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee unanimously approved a measure Thursday designed to curb the prescription of mental-health drugs to children in state care.

The proposed law would require the state Department of Children and Families to assign legal guardians to oversee each child's mental-health care. It prohibits prescribing drugs under clinical trial to foster children and raises the age children are allowed to take these drugs from six years old to 11 years old in many cases.

The measure would also give children some say in the drugs they take.

``We are not just going to medicate them until they turn 18 and then dump them into adulthood,'' said sponsor Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, chair of the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee.

The state's growing use of adult medication on emotionally and mentally troubled children has sparked debate for years.

Multiple state studies show child-welfare doctors and case managers routinely failed to follow legally required treatment plans or properly document when and why drugs were given to foster children, creating a network of youth sedated by ``chemical straight jackets,'' said Storms.

The death of Gabriel Myers in April further revealed the shortcomings of a 2005 legislation that required more information sharing, parental involvement and second-party review of doctors' prescriptions for the youngest children.

Because foster children are often cared for by multiple service contractors, communication lapses and fragmented mental-health care are still rampant problems, a recent state report on Myers' death determined.

``Our response to him was to medicate him, and medicate him, and medicate him,'' Storms said.

Under the bill, proposed medical treatment plans must be explained to a child and the child must consent to the treatment in most cases before they can begin taking the drugs.

``What this means is less medication and more behavior analysis so that they are not just sedated little zombies,'' said Jan Montgomery, president of the Florida Association for Behavior Analysis, which would train legal guardians to observe and treat behavioral problems.

Still, Montgomery said she did not expect a sudden culture shift, given failed past efforts to track foster children's medical records.

``It's going to be a slow slide toward what we are hoping is the right way,'' Montgomery said.

Cristina Silva can be reached at

Read more:


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Information about the Underserved Populations Committee

Some information about the Underserved Populations Response Committee:

We have had a very positive response to our creation of the Underserved Populations Response Committee. We would like to focus on enhancing services to underserved populations experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, incest, and stalking. We want to identify underserved populations, subject matter experts, services, organizations, websites, and other resources.

We have heard from many people interested in participating, and received many suggestions for populations to be included.

Set forth below is the list of underserved populations we have identified so far:

• Women of color
• Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals
• Persons with disabilities
• Women who are Orthodox Jews
• Other members of the Faith Community
• People with Limited English Proficiency
• Farm workers
• Undocumented aliens
• Battered immigrant women
• Haitians
• Women who are homeless who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, and incest.
Indigenous Women

We also want to serve men who are victims of domestic violence, but we want to discuss how best to do that.

I am sure that I have an incomplete list of underserved populations. That is why it is so important to have a collaborative approach here. If you have additional underserved populations you would like to include, please contact Marc Dubin, Esq., Committee Chair, at or at 305-896-3000 (mobile).

I have thought of some goals for the Committee, set forth below, but I want to hear from others as to the goals you want us to try to accomplish. I know that there are some remarkable organizations and individuals already working to enhance services to underserved populations around the country

The Underserved Population Response Committee has several goals:

• Identify underserved populations;
• Identify resources, including subject matter experts, and individuals and organizations serving these populations, as well as websites and Blogs with information and resources; and
• Enhance collaborations and partnerships to better serve these populations.

Thank you. I look forward to getting to know you, and look forward to a successful Committee.