FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami/AP) – Two years ago the death of seven-year old Gabriel Myers who hanged himself with a shower hose in the bathroom of his Margate foster home shocked and saddened those around him.
The Department of Children and Families concluded his death was in fact the fault of foster parents who failed to provide adequate supervision for the boy and left him in the care of a “mentally deficient” 19 year-old caregiver on the day he died. The investigation into Myer’s death also focused on the serious psychotropic drugs he was prescribed. Gabriel was on Seroquel – used to treat bipolar disorder – and other psychiatric drugs linked by federal regulators to potentially dangerous side effects, including suicide, but the risks may not have been adequately communicated to his foster parents.
Myers’s death led to a statewide investigation which found 13 percent, or 2,699, of all foster children are on such drugs, according to a Department of Children and Families(DCF) study. That compares with only an estimated 4 percent to 5 percent of children in the general population.
On Thursday, federal lawmakers will holding a hearing on Capitol Hill to examine a study on the high rates at which foster children are prescribed powerful psychotropic drugs.
Sen. Tom Carper began investigating the issue after some studies show more than 20 percent of foster children will have taken psychotropic drugs at some point, compared to less than 5 percent of non-foster youth.
Thursday’s hearing comes a week after federal health officials notified state child welfare leaders they will have to provide more details about how they control the medications for foster kids starting next year.
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