Sunday, October 01, 2006

Strengthening state oversight over pyschotropic drug prescriptions for foster youth

States should diligently monitor the usage of psychotropic medication

In 2003, the Miami Herald reported that the Florida Statewide Advocacy Council had conducted a two-year investigation of 1,180 foster children, and found that over 50% had been presribed mind-altering drugs. This included 17 preschoolers.

These drugs had not been approved by the FDA for use by children.

At the time, Florida's Medicaid office was surprised by the number of children who were prescribed psychotropic medications without a psychiatric diagnosis.

- 44% of foster youth had not been seen by a doctor.

- 38% of the children studied were given drugs without signed consent from a parent, guardian or judge, as state law requires.

- 89% of foster children on psychotropic drugs had no records in their file to show they were being medically monitored.

Richard Wexler, head of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform. commented, "This is child abuse on a grand scale. It's obvious that DCF still hasn't learned to just say no to drugs.''

Florida legislators passed a law over a year ago, to curb the usage of psychotropic drugs by Florida foster children.

Yet today , according to the Miami Herald, state welfare officials still do not have an accurate list of foster youth who are currently being given such drugs.

Patricia Badland, head of Florida's family safety program, recently reported that Florida caseworkers have failed to monitor foster youth who have been prescribed anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and other drugs designed to combat mental illness. Most of these drugs have never been tested on children.

Badland is particularly concerned about children under the age of six years old, who have been prescribed "a psychiatric cocktail" of drugs.

Miller, Carol Marbin. Mind-altering drugs given to some babies in DCF's Miami Herald, Sept 17, 2002 p. A-1
Miller, Carol Marbin. No list of kids on mood drugs. Miami Herald, Sept. 23, 2006, Metro pg. 1B.

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It is such a fine line - so many of these kids hav ebeen given drugs to solve problems that love and therapy need to solve but so many others haven't been given the drugs needed to be able to function without extreme conflict.

Anything is an improvement in my book at this point!
Good point... it's become a "what comes first, the chicken or the egg situation."

This is exacerbated by the fact that foster parents aren't always given complete medical information.

Also, judges aren't necessarily medical experts.

My personal opinion: There needs to be national oversight over drugging youth in foster care.

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