Gabriel Myers, age 7 and in the Florida foster care system, deliberately hanged and killed himself with a detachable shower hose.
My wife and I recently signed up for foster care here in Baltimore, and we have been taking care of our first foster care child (an infant) for the past 3 months. Foster care is the temporary placement of a child, typically while the parent gets his or her life together in order to better care for the child. As we went through the process, we met a lot of foster care parents, and learned that many children are placed in foster care because they are physically, emotionally or sexually abused; or because they are neglected. The older the children are when they are pulled away from their parents, the more likely it is that they have significant emotional and psychiatric injuries.
So, this is an issue I feel strongly about. Children taken away from a volatile situation need the best care possible, and need to be safe and loved. Recent reports from Florida show that many children who have had tumultuous lives are being put on psychotropic medication when they enter the foster care system. In fact, an astounding number of children in the Florida Department of Children and Families are on these drugs:
- 22% of children aged 6-12
- 33% of children aged 13-17
Tellingly, a fewer percentage of foster care children who live with relatives or family friends are taking psychotropics—about 12%. And, that number even feels high.