MIAMI — Four months after a Broward child in foster carem, who had been prescribed psychotropic medication, hanged himself from a shower hose, a panel’s report says children in state custody are often given mind-altering drugs instead of treating the reasons behind their emotional outbreaks.
Florida has approximately 19,000 children in state care and of those about 3,200 are in Miami-Dade County, according to DCF spokeswoman Flora Beal.
A state appointed panel recently reviewed all cases and released a report that found that the policies requiring parental consent or a second opinion were not uniformly followed.
Gabriel Myers, the 7-year-old who hanged himself on April 16th using a detachable shower head at his foster parent’s Margate home, was on psychotropic medications without the required consent. And his case isn’t an isolated incident, according to the panel’s report.
“Psychotherapeutic medications are often being used to help parents, teachers and other child workers quiet and manage, rather than treat, children,” the report says. “We have not clearly articulated the standard of psychiatric care expected for children in state foster care.”
DCF Secretary George Sheldon had appointed a panel to review the Myers case and how often the state relies on psychotropic drugs.
“There was a lot of evidence presented to the work group — from kids and from folks in the system — raising a lot of concern over the purpose of these drugs,” Sheldon told The Herald.
He warned that the report is not final and may be subject to change after another group reviews it.