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Children in foster care taking psychotropic drugs higher than originally thought.


By Janine Zeitlin

Department of Children and Families data released Friday showed that the number of Southwest Florida children in foster care taking psychotropic drugs was higher than originally thought.

Last week, DCF secretary, George Sheldon, released findings of a review of every foster child's files to check for parental consent or a court order for such medications, as required by law.

The inquiry came after the April death of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers, a Broward County foster child who hanged himself in the shower.

The department had not obtained valid consent for medication.

The revised state data showed 13 percent of children served in out-of-home care by the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida were taking such drugs, which include mood stabilizers and antidepressants.

That number was up from 11 percent.

Judi Spann, a DCF spokeswoman, said the agency continues to updates its data.
Last week’s count did not include about 400 children of the 3,070 counted.

Numbers show a high percent of teenagers in foster care taking the drugs. In Southwest Florida, more than one in four teenagers in foster care are taking the medications.

Since the data was released, the department has obtained more consent or court orders, edging down to 14 percent statewide without consent compared to 16 percent last week.

2009 Jun 5