Over-Drugging Foster Care Children

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released their September, 2018 reportTreatment Planning and Medication Monitoring Were Lacking for Children in Foster Care Receiving Psychotropic Medication.

A previous 2015 OIG report found serious quality-of-care concerns in the treatment of children with psychotropic drugs. This year’s report follows up on that with a sample of 625 children in foster care from the 5 States that had the highest utilization of psychotropic medications in their foster care populations in FY 2013 — Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Virginia.

Medicaid pays for a majority of the healthcare services that children in foster care receive, including psychotropic drugs. In 2013, the most recent year for which there was complete data available in the Medicaid Statistical Information System, state Medicaid programs paid approximately $366 million for psychotropic drugs for nearly 240,000 children in foster care up to age 21.

This table shows some of the data for these five states, plus Missouri for comparison, and the totals for all 50 states.

State (FY2013) Population of Children in Foster Care Number of Children in Foster Care Treated with Psychotropic Drugs Percentage of Children in Foster Care Treated with Psychotropic Drugs Total Medicaid fee-for-service Expenditures for Psychotropic Drugs for Children in Foster Care
Iowa 13,951 4,981 35.70% $7,135,849
Maine 3,527 1,155 32.70% $1,600,692
New Hampshire 2,614 944 36.10% $1,741,581
North Dakota 2,734 1,021 37.30% $1,184,934
Virginia 14,999 5,584 37.20% $11,959,404
Missouri 34,817 9,847 28.30% $26,130,684
Total All 50 States 1,073,340 238,465 22.20% $365,555,960

What OIG Found
In these five states, one in three children in foster care who were treated with psychotropic drugs did not receive treatment planning or drug monitoring as required by the states.

The HHS Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is responsible for awarding Federal funding to states’ child welfare programs and for overseeing those programs. Ostensibly they require each state to comply with approriate treatment planning and drug monitoring. Unfortunately, not only is this not consistently occurring, it is not consistently being done with the professional practice guidelines from psychiatric professional organizations. In other words, it isn’t really being professional or effective, to the detriment of many thousands of foster care children across the country.

OIG recognizes that these drugs can have serious adverse side effects, and the 34% of children who did not receive treatment planning or drug monitoring are liable to be the ones experiencing issues such as too many mind-altering drugs, incorrect dosages, incorrect durations, incorrect indications for use, or inappropriate treatments.

ACF complains that they have statutory and regulatory constraints that prevent them from fully implementing and reporting on treatment planning and drug monitoring. And the states have been getting away with lax treatment planning and drug monitoring because they can, putting foster care children at risk, while consuming nearly $366 million in taxpayer funds for harmful and addictive drugs that may be entirely inappropriate for many vulnerable children.

More than 30 percent of Missouri’s current foster children population are on at least one psychotropic medication, with 20 percent taking two or more psychotropic medications at the same time. This is almost twice the national rate of such prescriptions. These drugs are known to cause violence and suicide, as well as being addictive. Foster children are drugged with these harmful psychotropics at 13 times the rate of children living with their parents.

The real problem is that psychiatrists fraudulently diagnose children’s problems as an “illness”, and stigmatize unwanted behavior or study problems as “diseases.” Psychiatry’s stigmatizing labels, programs and treatments are harmful junk science; their diagnoses of “mental disorders” are a hoax – unscientific, fraudulent and harmful.

Click here for more information about psychiatric drugs harming foster care children.

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