psychotropic drugs in foster care

photo - nvinacco - flickr

In California, a year-long investigation by the San Jose Mercury News discovered foster and healthcare providers across the state mis-medicating thousands of children in their care with psychotropic drugs.

The drugs were not administered for the specific mental illnesses the FDA has approved them for, but rather employed as a form of behavioral control which left children feeling depressed, lethargic, or suffering physical side effects like weight gain.

Instead of providing stable homes and caring families for kids, the state’s foster care system gives them pills to control them. Nearly one out of every four adolescents in California’s foster care system is receiving these drugs—three times the rate for all adolescents nationwide. Although this story deals with the abusive actions of the foster care system in California, this is a national problem and one I have questioned here in Texas (with the result that Texas wants nothing do do with me as a foster care-giver).

Karen de Sá, investigative reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, led the investigation, which has already provoked a response at the state level. She appeared Tuesday on NPR’s The Takeaway, and explains what she found and the official investigation her report has unleashed. You can listen to her interview here.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Wilco performing “Handshake Drugs”


2 Responses to “psychotropic drugs in foster care”

  1. 1 matt
    September 3, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    LWOP for purchase/possession of marijuana. Thought this interesting in light of the today’s blog entry. Society “over-medicates” children (better living through chemistry), and then over sentences adults for minor drug offenses. A bit of a mixed message, to say the least.


  2. 2 Frank Manning
    September 4, 2014 at 3:00 am

    Isn’t it odd how this mass drugging of the most vulnerable children in society goes on without a peep of protest in a land that has been waging a merciless war on drugs for the past two generations and where a dedicated drug gestapo terrorizes physicians who dare to prescribe effective pain medications to–guess who!–people suffering from excruciating, often chronic, pain. The criminal hypocrisy of the whole process just boggles the mind. It stokes a deep disgust for the entire bureaucratic caste that administers these programs.

    At the reform school where I volunteer most of the kids are given these same drugs. I’ve questioned the use of certain powerful antipsychotics in cases where they just don’t seem appropriate. Staff have responded that all prescriptions are written by a psychiatrist who has actually interviewed each individual child. The kids tell me these “interviews” by a visiting shrink are cursory at best. Almost all of the kids are given a mildly addicting sleep medication to keep them quiet after bedtime, when they are locked in their rooms as early as 8 or 9 pm (and remain locked up until 7:30 the next morning). Even the kids in the drug rehab unit are medicated. These wily little addicts confound the whole system by “cheeking” their pills then trading them among themselves for substances that will get them high, such as the amphetamine that is regularly given to the ADHD kids. Some of the staff also question the mass drugging, but they know the consequences of rocking the bureaucratic boat, so nothing changes.

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