DCF foster children being given dangerous drugs has the agency on the defense
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- News story on psychotropic drugs being given to young kids in the state welfare system is causing quite a stir both here in the Bay area and throughout the state.
As the story explained, a child in the Department of Children and Families custody is three times more likely to get psychotropic drugs than other children. A Government Accountability Office study shows, using the most recent figures, that Medicaid spent more than $64,000,000 on drugs for kids in foster care in Florida.
In addition, the investigation shows many young children were given these meds even though the label says they should not be given to children under 12 years old.
News received calls from parents who said they went through the same experience as the parents in our story. They told us of their children being put on these drugs without their knowledge or permission. One DCF caseworker told us our story "hit just the tip of the iceberg and the drugs are often given to kids who have experienced trauma in their home life, trauma in being removed from the home, and then act out."
The caseworker explained some foster parents asked for the drugs to calm down the kids in the system and the doctors often go along.
On Facebook, Naria Mangicaro wrote, "Thank you for calling attention to the overuse of psych meds on children in foster care."
Claudia Roush wrote, "One of the reasons they give these drugs to these kids is to keep them calm and under control. What a joke!!!!"
We heard from child advocates who say they have been fighting DCF on this issue for years to no avail.
State Senator Ronda Storms (R) has introduced legislation to tighten the controls on DCF before it allows a child in foster care to get psychotropic drugs. She told us our story was on the money and will be helpful in getting her bill through the legislature. It comes up for a hearing in front of a Senate panel on February 9.
However, not everyone was happy with our story. DCF Communications Director Joe Follick sent an e-mail to 10 News management blasting our story, citing what he called "dubious choices of sources." We can only assume that includes Senator Storms.
He went on to say, "I am requesting that in the future neither (producer) Tony D'Astoli or Mike Deeson work on stories associated with DCF."
I can guarantee that won't happen. We will continue to push the agency to find out why it allows these drugs to be given to small children. We will push to find out why a caseworker lied in order to get a doctor to prescribe the drugs without telling the parents and why the agency is taking a CYA stance instead of addressing a major societal problem in our state.
Florida DCF Foster Children Being Given Dangerous Drugs Has The Agency On The Defense