Lawsuit Brought Against State’s Foster Care System For Giving Kids Psychotropic Drugs

Foster children are allegedly being drugged to keep them obedient.

Credit: ParentMap

Social services has been under fire for quite some time all over the country due to allegations of misconduct, misplacement of children, and mistreatment while children are under their care. While cases vary, and of course not every child has an abusive experience and some even find loving foster or adoptive parents, a recent class-action lawsuit was filed against Missouri’s Department of Social Services for their misuse of psychotropic drugs.

Psychotropic drugs are powerful medications that affect the central nervous system and should only be used for serious diagnoses. Based on an investigation by several groups whose sole mission is to protect children and defend the law, many children in the foster care system are being given these psychotropic drugs for behavioral problems that the drugs were not even designed to treat.

“They are often administered as chemical straight-jackets, used to control the behavior of foster children,” the lawsuit says about the drugs.

As a result, children may act more calmly while under the influence, but these drugs also cause long-term effects that can be quite serious when given to children. For example, the incidence of type II diabetes is three times as high for children that are medicated and can lead to organ damage, psychosis, seizures, and other complications related to the brain and nervous system.

When children are taken into the care of Missouri’s Department of Social Services, they are supposed to be treated as though they are the children of the government. When they are handed off to foster homes, the custodial parents have reported that some children show up with prescriptions in paper bags that have no dosing or sometimes even label information.

“The caregivers don’t know in some instances what the medications are, what conditions they’re supposed to address for the child, what benefits they are supposed to provide to the child … They are operating in the dark,” Bill Grimm, an attorney with the National Center for Youth Law, told Reason.

The lawsuit details specific cases of children who experienced adverse effects as a result of misusing these drugs. One child wound up being hospitalized for six days because she received the wrong dose of several psychotropic drugs. Another child was prescribed seven different psychotropic drugs at once and developed horrible tremors, causing him to be institutionalized.

The state of Missouri did attempt to solve this problem by asking for “second opinions” on the top ten most popular psychotropic drugs used for the children, but scrapped the program soon after because they allegedly found the information to be too difficult to obtain and not helpful. Other states have since enacted their own programs that look for second opinions from child psychiatrists before prescribing the drugs to children, but Missouri has since only upped their prescriptions.

The lawsuit was filed June 12 and argues that the children in foster care are denied their civil rights by being given drugs meant to calm their behavior rather than to help any psychiatric problems they may have. It also claims that a lack of oversight and an abundance of mismanagement continues to put the children in the care of the Missouri government at risk and that something must be done to combat this issue before more children are unnecessarily harmed. The groups are calling for a complete overhaul of the current system and demand that children’s medical records be managed more efficiently while urging for the resurgence of a second opinion program.

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