So much bluster, but foster kids’ drug nightmare continues

Miami Herald
By Fred Grimm
Gabriel Myers died for nothing.

His shocking death supposedly galvanized Florida. It would mean something, this suicide of a foster kid who had been drugged into nether-consciousness with antidepressants and antipsychotics never intended for any child, much less a 7-year-old.

A new law would be crafted. State-sponsored zombification of foster kids would be stanched. Something would be done.

More like nothing.

“I was shocked. I was devastated,” said Mez Pierre, a young survivor of the unrestrained psychotropic regimes used to addle Florida foster kids.

THE PERPLEXING PUSHBACK

Pierre, 23, joined a number of child advocates, state officials, political leaders and judges in the Gabriel Myers Work Group formed by the Department of Children & Families. They met a dozen times over the past year, exploring legislative fixes for this stunning propensity to subdue foster children with adult-strength pharmaceuticals.

The group was born out of our collective shame. Gabriel Myers had been addled with Lexapro, Zyprexa and Symbyax — a drug cocktail no real parent would countenance. On April 15, 2010, Gabriel locked himself in the bathroom of his Margate foster home, coiled a shower hose around his neck and shocked Florida into . . . nothing.

The widely supported bill designed to regulate the drugging of foster kids disappeared in the House of Representatives this week. Medical and drug-industry lobbyists, and a single powerful legislator, Rep. Paige Kreegel, chairman of the Health Care Services Policy Committee, managed to waylay the bill.

Bernard P. Perlmutter, director of the University of Miami’s Children & Youth Law Clinic, was surprised that “pushback came from doctors and psychiatrists, since the bill did little more than codify existing medical ethics standards and laws regarding consent from a child’s parents or judge, and assent from the child, before psychotropic medication could be administered.”

Kreegel feigned unfamiliarity with Myers’ case. “I am shocked that the chairman never heard about Gabriel Myers, especially after the months of work by a task force of leading experts and then work by the Senate,” said Broward child advocate Andrea Moore. “Unfortunately, we know there are other children who have been harmed by the unfettered use of these drugs as chemical restraints. If a highly publicized death is not enough to galvanize the Legislature, I do not know what will do it.”

SPIRITS IN SHACKLES

Mez Pierre now understands Florida’s priorities: Doctors matter. But foster children . . .

“They sent foster kids a message.” he said.

“You’re just not important enough to protect.”

Pierre, 23, grew up in so-called “therapeutic” foster homes from age 5 to 18, shuffling from one zombie warehouse to another, where psychotropic drugs left him perpetually listless, filled his head with strange, often suicidal thoughts and caused serious physical side effects.

The brutal effects ended when he left foster care at age 18 and quit the psychotropics. Without the pills, the supposedly unruly young man has finished three years at Broward College. “But what happened to me, what happened to Gabriel, it’s still going on,” Pierre said.

And all the work group meetings. All the talk. All the work. As if foster kids mattered.

It came to nothing.

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1 Comment

Filed under Miami Herald, Uncategorized

One response to “So much bluster, but foster kids’ drug nightmare continues

  1. Jeanne J.Santana

    Please believe me when I tell you nothing has changed with D.C.F. and Childnet.My children were placed byChildnet in what I believe is with a caregiver that is not mentally stable herself,who has both of her own children heavily medicated and now is dosing my two children.When I told the child advocate what was gong on she reported to the caregiver what I had said and they tried to terminate my visits,which was unsuccessful. The advocate then told me I had to sign an informed consent for Prozac,which I refused to sign,at that point the child advocate told me she would get a court order to make my son take it. I told her to go ahead and do it. She had no knowledge of Prozac or what its indications for it was.I finally sighned a consent for Wellbutrin XL but in no way do I feel I have the right to how my children are cared for.My childrens caregiver is a woman who has psychiatric issues that fixates with medicaL ISSUES THAT ONLY SURFACED WHEN THE CHILDREN WERE UNDER HER CARE. The childnet advocate has done nothing to investigate the allegations as she and the caregiver have their own agendas,but is clearly apperant that it is shear neglect of thechildnet advocate. Clearly someone needs to advocate more appropriatly for the children and for the parents,which in many cases never happens do to the laziness and lack of empathy from childnet and D.C.F. More people need to be asked just how have the childrens and the parents rights been violated.

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