Officials say more mental health professionals are needed

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Florida lawmakers are responding after two foster children reportedly shot at deputies Tuesday night.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl fired an AK47 and a rifle at them several times before deputies returned fire.

State Sen. Linda Stewart said that she wants to see a more case-specific approach when making decisions of where to move foster children.

“We are missing the evaluation of that child as to whether or not they would even be eligible to go to a facility,” Stewart said. “We can’t just be moving kids back and forth to this and that place without having some type of affirmation that these kids are, can be eligible to be moved and be in certain situations.”

State Rep. Anna Eskamani said that Florida isn’t doing a good enough job providing proper care for the state’s foster youth.

“We’ve created a structure where young people with so much trauma, see that trauma, accumulate to violence,” Eskamani said.

Both Stewart and Eskamani also said more money needs to be allocated to provide mental health professionals as a resource to the children.

“We need more mental health providers in this system. So much of this can be prevented at an early age, we address the trauma when it first happens versus allowing it to get worse and worse,” Eskamani said.

Eskamani also said that the state needs to do a better job recruiting quality foster parents.

The Department of Children and Families said that it will work with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office to determine if any mistakes were made leading up to Tuesday’s shooting.

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