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.

Medical Kidnapping

Whether under the care of Child Protective Services, Departments of Family and Child Services, or Youth Welfare Offices, foster children — often removed from family homes because of alleged abuse — are further abused when they are prescribed psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs. Already troubled over their circumstances, these children are drugged for emotional and behavioral issues, sometimes with tragic outcome.

The high rates of psychotropic drug use in the Medicaid population, risks associated with these drugs, and research documenting inappropriate prescribing, have raised concerns, especially for children involved in the child welfare system.

Have you ever heard of Medical Kidnapping? It’s when the government removes a family member from their home for some kind of medical reason.

Some of the “medical” reasons given are: asking for a second opinion, disagreeing with a doctor, refusing to give or take a prescribed psychiatric drug, parents not vaccinating their kids, someone said there was some kind of medical abuse, someone said there was some kind of medical emergency.

Now there’s a web site for it: http://medicalkidnap.com/.

“Though much of the public may still believe that Child Protective Services must have a good reason whenever they take children away from their parents, the curtain is increasingly being pulled back to expose the ugly truth behind the facade. Children are seized from their families many times over false allegations and lies. Deception within social services is the norm, not the exception.”

Medical kidnapping of children may be far more prevalent than anyone has realized.

Children in foster care are three times more likely to be prescribed harmful and addictive psychiatric drugs, making them a large market for the psycho-pharmaceutical industry. Psychiatrists prescribed 93% of the psychotropic drugs dispensed to foster youths, according to a 2008 study.

It is legal in Missouri to conduct medical research on foster children, albeit with various forms and approvals.

“Just as social workers and family courts don’t require actual evidence to take children from their families, objective testing and evidence is not required for a psychiatrist to label someone with a mental illness – a label that can follow the child for years, or forever.”

Click here for more information about psychiatric drugging of foster children.

Immigrant Children Forcibly Injected with Psychiatric Drugs

A lawsuit filed April 18, 2018 claims that children detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) are unlawfully, routinely and forcibly given multiple psychotropic drugs without theirs or their parents’ consent in order to control their behavior rather than for any medically necessary reason (particularly those housed at the Shiloh Residential Treatment Center in Manvel, Texas), told little or nothing about these drugs, and often suffer negative side effects without recourse.

The lawsuit alleges that children were told they would not be released or see their parents unless they took drugs and that they only were receiving vitamins.

Taxpayers have paid more than $1.5 billion in the past four years to private companies operating immigrant youth shelters accused of serious lapses in care, including forced psychiatric drugging, neglect and sexual and physical abuse. In nearly all cases reviewed, the federal government continued contracts with these companies after serious allegations were raised.

This smacks of the forced over-drugging of foster children; we think both cases — the over-drugging of foster children and the over-drugging of immigrant children — are examples of coercive psychiatry at its worst. Harming children in the name of health is despicable, and the psychiatrists responsible should be in jail.

Claiming that even normal childhood behavior is a mental disorder and that drugs are the solution, psychiatrists and psychologists have insinuated themselves into positions of authority over children.

The entirety of psychological and psychiatric programs for children are founded on the tacit assumptions that mental health “experts” know all about the mind and mental phenomena, know a better way of life, a better value system and how to improve the lives of children beyond the understanding and capability of not only parents, but everyone else in society.

The reality is that all child mental health programs are designed to control the lives of children towards specific ideological objectives at the expense of not only the children’s sanity and well-being, but also that of their parents and of society itself.

Psychiatrists have been largely responsible for creating the problems they have ostensibly tried to solve. They are the last people to whom we should turn to solve the problems of our children.

If your child has been subjected to psychological/psychiatric screening without your consent, or coercively drugged and harmed, consult a lawyer to determine your right to prosecute criminally and civilly.

Support legislative measures that will protect children from psychiatric and psychological interference and which will remove their destructive influence from schools and other social institutions. Ultimately, psychiatry and psychology must be eliminated from society and their coercive and unworkable methods should never be funded by the State.

For more information click here to download and read the CCHR report “Harming Youth — Psychiatry Destroys Young Minds“.

UPDATED JULY 30, 2018

“A federal judge in Los Angeles has ordered the Trump administration to seek consent before administering psychotropic drugs to immigrant children held in a facility in Texas.”

Missouri Foster Care Children at Risk

Following up on the federal class action lawsuit (M.B. v. Corsi) against the Missouri Department of Social Services for the overuse of harmful and addictive psychotropic drugs among vulnerable foster children.

More than 30 percent of Missouri’s 13,000 foster children 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.

For the first time, a federal court has ruled that the failure to oversee the administration of powerful psychotropic medications to children in foster care could violate their rights under the Constitution.

On January 8, 2018 U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey denied the state’s motion to dismiss the children’s due process claims. The judge was particularly concerned that the state, by its own admission, fails to maintain complete medical records for the foster children in its care, and does not provide updated health information to foster parents or doctors.

Foster children are drugged with harmful psychotropics at 13 times the rate of children living with their parents.

Recognize that 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.

Take Action – Missouri Legislature

Periodically we let you know the progress of various proposed legislation making its way through the Missouri General Assembly and suggest ways for you to contribute your viewpoint to your state Representative and state Senator.

The Missouri General Assembly is the state legislature of the State of Missouri and is composed of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The General Assembly is responsible for creating laws for governing the State of Missouri. The Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo) are electronically available on this site:  http://revisor.mo.gov/.

You can find your Representative and Senator, and their contact information, by entering your 9-digit zip code here.

The Ninety-Ninth General Assembly, Second Regular Session, will convene at 12:00 P.M., Wednesday, January 3, 2018. Pre-filing of bills started December 1, 2017.

This time we’d like to discuss several bills which we’d like you to write your legislators about. Please write from your viewpoint as an individual or professional, and not as a representative of any organization. Let us know the details and any responses you get. The full text of each bill can be found on the House and Senate Joint Bill Tracking site. Just put the bill number into the search box (e.g. SB661).

Check out our handy discussion about How to write to a legislator.

If you are not a voting resident of Missouri, you can find out about legislation in your own state and write your own state legislators; also, we are looking for volunteers to monitor legislation in Missouri and the states surrounding Missouri — let us know if you’d like to help out.

Very Bad Bills

These are bills that further psychiatric abuses of human rights. Please express your opposition and opinions about these to your legislators and copy the sponsors.

1) SB661 – Senate Bill 661 – sponsored by Senator Jeanie Riddle (Republican, District 10).

This act provides that after a person accused of committing a crime has been involuntarily committed to the Department of Mental Health due to lack of mental fitness to stand trial, the legal counsel for the Department shall have standing to participate in hearings regarding involuntary medications for the accused.

The subject of this bill had been introduced previously in 2016 and 2017. We think it is very bad because it allows the Department of Mental Health to force psychiatric drugs on involuntarily committed citizens. Both of these actions — involuntary commitment and enforced drugging — are psychiatric abuses of human rights.

2) SB785 – Senate Bill 785 – sponsored by Senator Jamilah Nasheed (Democrat, District 5).

This act establishes the Coordinating Board for Mental Health Issues in Higher Education (CBMHI). Each public institution of higher education in Missouri shall have one representative, who is either an administrator or counseling director, on the CBMHI.

It requires setting standards and regulations for student counseling facilities that relate to mental health problems, and developing a process for measuring a higher educational institution’s ability to meet student mental health needs. In other words, it will promote psychiatric and psychological counseling, and likely recommend psychiatric drugs as well. While this sounds altruistic, we know that the current state of psychiatric and psychological counseling is an abuse of human rights.

3) HB1363 – House Bill 1363 – sponsored by Representative Bill Kidd (Republican, District 20).

This bill requires teachers and principals to complete two hours of suicide prevention education each school year.

Again, while this sounds altruistic, the current state of so-called “suicide prevention education” is a recommendation for harmful and addictive psychiatric drugs, which are known to cause the very thing they are supposed to prevent, which is violence and suicide.

4) HB1419 – House Bill 1419 – sponsored by Representative Marsha Haefner (Republican, District 95).

This bill requires certain health care professionals to complete two hours of suicide prevention training as a condition of licensure.

More of the same — the current state of so-called “suicide prevention training” is a recommendation for harmful and addictive psychiatric drugs, which are known to cause the very thing they are supposed to prevent, which is violence and suicide.


Very Good Bills

These are bills that support human rights and oppose psychiatric abuses. Please express your support and opinions about these to your legislators and copy the sponsors.

1) SB672 – Senate Bill 672 – sponsored by Senator Andrew Koenig (Republican, District 15).

This act provides that during a child protective investigation if the child is at risk for possible removal the Children’s Division shall provide information to the parent about community service programs that provide support services for families in crisis. Additionally, a parent may temporarily delegate to an attorney-in-fact any powers regarding the care and custody of a child, where a child subject to such power of attorney shall not be considered placed in foster care.

This returns parental rights to the parents instead of forcing a child into foster care. We think this is supportive of human rights, not to mention preventing a child from receiving psychiatric drugging which almost always occurs in foster care.

2) SB786 – Senate Bill 786 – sponsored by Senator Jill Schupp (Democrat, District 24).

This bill modifies provisions relating to “whistle-blower’s” protection for public employees by broadening its scope of application and extending protections to the whistle-blower.

3) HB1294 – House Bill 1294 – sponsored by Representative Cheri Toalson Reisch (Republican, District 44).

This bill specifies that parental liberty to direct the upbringing, education, and care of his or her children is a fundamental right. The State of Missouri and any political subdivision of the state is prohibited from infringing on this right without demonstrating a compelling governmental interest.

Needless to say, we support parental rights as a basic human right. Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.” And Article 26 says, “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”

4) HB1451 – House Bill 1451 – sponsored by Representative Karla May (Democrat, District 84).

This bill prohibits the use of electroconvulsive therapy on children under 16 years of age. Any person or mental health facility that administers electroconvulsive therapy to someone under 16 years of age will be fined up to $100,000 or imprisoned for two years, or both, and will be liable for compensation to the person that was given the electroconvulsive therapy.

What can we say? About time! Get this one passed! Write your legislators now!

Psychiatry’s Reign of Terror

Emil Kraepelin (1856-1926), known as the “father of modern psychiatry” and original architect of what became the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), established the basic suppressive fundamentals of the Holocaust. The pattern was: Label someone with a false psychiatric diagnosis; Remove them from society; Put them into special camps or institutions; Destroy them.

Suppress: to put down by force or authority; to squash any attempt at betterment; an antisocial expression of antagonism toward life, living or attempts to do better in life.

Psychiatrists today, all over the world, use and apply the same basic suppressive fundamentals of Kraepelin in the mental health industry. Label someone with a false psychiatric diagnosis; Involuntarily commit them to a psychiatric facility, or put children into foster care, or put the elderly into a nursing home, or enforce psychiatric treatment on those incarcerated in prison; Forcibly give them harmful “treatments” such as psychiatric drugs, electric shock, or brain surgery which either cripples them or kills them.

A recently published article in the journal History of Psychiatry by three psychiatrists chronicles the Nazi’s use of electroshock treatment to eliminate mental patients and other “undesirables” from the population. The authors detail that in 1944 Dr. Emil Gelny, working at psychiatric hospitals in Gugging and Mauer-Öhling, Austria, began systematically killing patients with an ECT machine. Today, ECT is a big money-maker for the psychiatric industry.

The origin of psychiatric false data
In 1879, German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) of Leipzig University provided the ultimate scientific “proof” for eugenics and racism, by arrogantly declaring that as man’s soul could not be measured with scientific instruments, it did not exist.

Kraepelin was a student of Wundt; in 1917 he founded the German Research Institute for Psychiatry in Munich (funded by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1924), which became the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Psychiatry during World War II, and after the War was renamed as the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. This institute’s mission was, and is, to prove that mental disorders are just biological, genetic brain disorders. German psychiatrist Alfred Erich Hoche (1865-1943) in 1920 endorsed exterminating “life unworthy of living.” Swiss psychiatrist Ernst Rüdin (1874-1952) worked under Kraepelin for 18 years, and was instrumental in designing The Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring in 1933 (the “sterilization law”) which provided the legal basis for compulsory sterilization, which ultimately led to the euthanasia (killing) of six million Jews during World War II.

There were hundreds of psychiatrists in Germany directing and carrying out the atrocities prior to and during the Holocaust. Dr. Schmuhl said, “In my opinion, you cannot say that there are only a few bad apples within psychiatry who did National Socialism’s groundwork, but it is a problem with the entire profession.”

It wasn’t just during the War that these atrocities were perpetrated. Long before in 1905, psychiatrist Rüdin and eugenicist Alfred Ploetz were among the founders of the German Society for Racial Hygiene, a euphemism for eradicating undesirable traits in the population by removing those “undesirables” with sterilization or murder. Starting in 1934 under the sterilization Law, the number of people who were involuntarily sterilized may be as high as 400,000, with up to 5,000 who died as a consequence. Another 275,000 psychiatric patients were murdered, including an estimated 100,000 who starved to death in German mental hospitals. Starting in 1938 the “child euthanasia” program killed over 5,000 babies and children in 31 “pediatric wards” by the psychiatrists in various psychiatric hospitals.

Then in 1939 the first gas chamber killings began in Fort VII concentration camp in Posen, Poland. In 1940-1941, over 70,000 mental patients were killed by poison gas in six psychiatric centers. From 1942-1945 another 250,000 mental patients in psychiatric hospitals were killed. This was only the beginning of the psychiatric atrocities.

For more information, watch the CCHR Documentary The Age of Fear – Psychiatry’s Reign of Terror, which contains shocking personal testimony and revealing inside footage that tell the true story of psychiatry, whose reliance on brutality and coercion has not changed since the moment it was born in Germany.

The Age of Fear education package is also provided free of charge to historians, professors and human rights activists who give lectures and group instruction, teach school or university classes or run community learning programs.

Previous CCHR STL blogs on this subject
http://www.cchrstl.org/wordpress/2017/06/11/the-racism-of-psychiatry/
http://www.cchrstl.org/wordpress/2017/05/22/racism-how-psychiatry-creates-and-perpetuates-it/
http://www.cchrstl.org/wordpress/2016/12/10/nazis-on-drugs/
http://www.cchrstl.org/wordpress/2016/03/25/holocaust-commemoration-in-london-details-hitlers-use-of-psychiatric-genocide-program/
http://www.cchrstl.org/wordpress/2012/11/10/the-age-of-fear-psychiatrys-reign-of-terror/
http://www.cchrstl.org/wordpress/2017/03/19/washington-university-in-st-louis-shocks-pregnant-women/

References
1. Psychiatrists-the Men Behind Hitler, by Dr. Thomas Röder and etc., Freedom Publishing, 1999.

2. Die Gesellschaft Deutscher Neurologen und Psychiater im Nationalsozialismus (The Society of German Neurologists and Psychiatrists in National Socialism), by Hans-Walter Schmuhl, Springer, 2015. Professor Schmuhl is a German historian who has published numerous history books, especially the history of euthanasia.

3. G Gazdag, GS Ungvari, and H Czech, “Mass killing under the guise of ECT: the darkest chapter in the history of biological psychiatry,” In History of Psychiatry, Sage Publications, 2017.

Doctors in Schools

Through psychiatry’s stigmatizing labels, false explanations, easy-seizure commitment laws and often brutal, depersonalizing “treatments” and deadening, mind-altering drugs, thousands needlessly fall into psychiatry’s coercive system every day all over the world. It is a system which exemplifies human rights abuse.

“In the Australian state of Victoria, a state program kicked in at the beginning of 2017 to mandate that children as young as 12 should see a doctor in school at least once a week, to receive drugs and medical treatment without parental consent.”

“Select Victorian Government secondary schools will work together with local general practices to enable primary health care services to be delivered on school premises.

One suspects that this “Doctors in Schools” program is actually intended to consolidate government control over children and line the pockets of pharmaceutical corporations. You know that these doctors will be prescribing psychiatric drugs to these schoolchildren.

In his 1932 novel, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley depicts a “utopian” but totalitarian society, one that is insane and bent on control. It is a controlled civilization, using, as Huxley stated, the “technique of suggestion – through infant conditioning and, later, with the aid of drugs.”

In 2003 the release of the U.S. New Freedom Commission on Mental Health Report recommended that all 52 million American schoolchildren be “screened” for “mental illness,” claiming – without proof – that “early detection, assessment, and links with “treatment” could “prevent mental health problems from worsening.” “Treatment” ultimately means drugs – usually the most expensive ones that effectively create lifetime mental health patients – for which the government and insurance agencies can be billed.

Children worldwide are under extremely dangerous assault. Today, parents and teachers are also deceived in the name of improved mental health and better education.

In the U.S. alone, 1.5 million children and adolescents on antidepressants are at risk of known, drug-induced violent or suicidal side effects.

In Missouri, Medicaid spends $16 Million per year on psychiatric drugs for roughly 20,000 children in state foster care. Foster care babies less than a year old are being given barbiturates to make them sleep. The side effects of barbiturates include addiction, depression, disorientation, hallucinations, kidney disease, and liver disease.

This information is not easy, comfortable reading. Ultimately the harshest reality you will have to face is that children urgently need our help and protection. Without that, the future for one and all is at serious risk.

For more information on harmful mental health screening, assessments, evaluations and programs within our schools, go to http://www.cchrstl.org/screening.shtml.

Missouri Foster Care Class Action Lawsuit

LANDMARK FEDERAL LAWSUIT CHARGES MISSOURI WITH PERVASIVE FAILURE TO MONITOR THE PRESCRIPTION AND ADMINISTRATION OF POWERFUL PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATIONS TO FOSTER YOUTH

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS CONTACTS:
Holly Aubry; haubry@childrensrights.org; 646.943.0541
Lewis Cohen; lcohen@youthlaw.org; 510.835.8098, ext 3045
Jessica Lillie Ciccone: lillieciccone@slu.edu; 314.977.7248

JUNE 12, 2017 – JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – Watchdogs Children’s Rights, National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) and Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics have today filed a landmark, civil rights complaint against Jennifer Tidball, Acting State Director of the Missouri Department of Social Services and Tim Decker, Director of the Children’s Division of DSS, on behalf of all minor children and youth who are or will be placed in Missouri’s foster care custody.

The first class action lawsuit to shine a federal spotlight solely on the overuse of psychotropic medications among vulnerable, at risk populations – such as Missouri’s 13,000 children in foster care – the complaint alleges longstanding, dangerous, unlawful and deliberately indifferent practices by the defendants, including:

  • Failure to ensure that powerful psychotropic drugs are administered to children safely and only when necessary
  • Failure to maintain complete and current medical records for children in foster care and to provide those records to foster parents and health providers to ensure effective and well-informed treatment
  • Failure to maintain a secondary review system to identify and address high risk and outlier prescriptions to children when they occur
  • Failure to assure and document meaningful, informed consent in relation to the administration of these drugs

“Children in Missouri foster care are routinely being placed on psychotropic drugs without adequate safeguards in place. The foster care system’s abject failure to oversee and closely monitor the use of these powerful drugs exposes Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens to serious, and even permanent injury,” explains Sara Bartosz, Deputy Director of Litigation Strategy at Children’s Rights. “It’s a systemic violation of children’s constitutional right to be free from harm while in state custody. Missouri must do far better by its children.”

According to Bill Grimm, Directing Attorney of Child Welfare at NCYL, “For foster children, psychotropic medications, especially antipsychotics, are often used as chemical restraints and not to treat the limited illnesses for which the FDA has approved their use in children. Few children, even those children and adolescents in foster care, suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder – the predominant diagnoses for which antipsychotics have FDA approval for use with children. Yet antipsychotics are some of the most frequently prescribed drugs given to foster children. This is what we’re seeing in Missouri. It’s an outlier, and children’s lives are at risk.”

Given the lack of research on the safe and appropriate use of psychotropic medications in children, it is of particular concern when children are exposed to “outlier” prescribing practices: being given medications that are not approved by the FDA for use in children, combining multiple psychotropic medications, dosages that exceed recommended amounts, or given these drugs at a very young age.

“The lack of oversight and coordination of care in Missouri is disturbing,” adds co-counsel, John Ammann, professor and supervisor in the Legal Clinics at SLU LAW. “Foster youth endure incomprehensible trauma and abuse, but rather than receiving therapeutic counseling and mental health support to treat underlying issues, they are too frequently given powerful psychotropic medications to control their behavior. The foster children of Missouri deserve better.”

“These children are being prescribed too many powerful and potentially dangerous drugs, at unacceptable dosages and at too young an age. The federal government has cautioned strongly against these practices. It’s time that Missouri is held accountable to the children in its care it promised to protect,” states Sara Bartosz.

###

ABOUT CHILDREN’S RIGHTS
Fighting to transform America’s failing child welfare, juvenile justice, education and healthcare systems is one of the most important social justice movements of our time. Through strategic advocacy and legal action, Children’s Rights holds state governments accountable to America’s most vulnerable children. A national watchdog organization since 1995, Children’s Rights fights to protect and defend the rights of young people, because we believe that children have the right to the best possible futures. For more information, please visit www.childrensrights.org.

ABOUT NATIONAL CENTER FOR YOUTH LAW
The National Center for Youth Law is a non-profit law firm that helps low-income children achieve their potential by transforming the public agencies that serve them. For more information, please visit www.youthlaw.org.

ABOUT SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW LEGAL CLINICS
For more than for 40 years the Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics have created a tradition of social justice by providing invaluable legal services to the greater St. Louis community. Dedicated to the University’s Jesuit mission of advocating for the disadvantaged and the betterment of the community at large, the Legal Clinics provide unique and challenging opportunities in a supportive experiential learning environment for every student who desires a clinical experience, please visit law.slu.edu/clinics.

[http://www.childrensrights.org/press-release/landmark-federal-lawsuit-charges-missouri-with-pervasive-failure-to-monitor-the-prescription-and-administration-of-powerful-psychotropic-medications-to-foster-youth/]

Missouri Foster Care Proposed Legislation

[See our previous newsletter on drugging foster care children in Missouri.]

Here is another piece of proposed legislation for protecting foster care children from being needlessly poisoned by psychiatric drugs. Contact your state legislators about this. (This applies to any state, not just Missouri.)

FOR THE STATE OF MISSOURI

PROPOSED REGULATION

Entitled: “CHEMICAL ABUSE: ENDANGERING THE HEALTH OF A CHILD OR YOUTH IN FOSTER CARE.”

WHEREAS: Child endangerment refers to an act or omission that renders a child subject to psychological, emotional or physical abuse. The child who is subjected to such endangerment is called an abused child or a neglected child. Endangerment that results in serious physical illness or injury is a felony.1

WHEREAS: Reckless Endangerment consists of acts that create a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person. The accused person isn’t required to intend the resulting or potential harm, but must have acted in a way that showed a disregard for the foreseeable consequences of the actions.2

WHEREAS: The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2010 (CAPTA) defines “child abuse and neglect” as meaning, “at a minimum, any recent act or failure to act,” which “results in death, serious physical or emotional harm…”3

WHEREAS: Psychotropic medications have adverse effects including: stroke,4 pancreatitis5, obesity, with children taking atypical antipsychotics adding eight to fifteen percent to their weight after the drugs for less than 12 weeks.6 A variety of drugs targeted towards the central nervous system are associated with cardiac side effects, including arrhythmia and sudden death.7 Type 2 diabetes is associated with some atypical antipsychotics.8 Symptoms of psychosis or mania, particularly hallucinations, are linked to methylphenidate (ADHD) drugs9, suicidality10, violent behavior11, agitation, hostility and impulsivity in antidepressants12, akathisia (drug-induced restlessness) in antidepressants and antipsychotics13, tardive dyskinesia (permanent impairment of voluntary movement) and other movement disorders14, and gynecomastia (female breast growth in boys prescribed the antipsychotic Risperdal).15 Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a severe iatrogenic and potentially fatal complication of antipsychotics.16 At least 20 psychotropic drugs have been linked to violent behavior, with reports of homicide, physical assaults, cases indicating physical abuse, homicidal ideation, and cases described as violence-related symptoms.17 Mood stabilizer drugs are associated with behavioral problems, including aggression and hyperactivity.18

WHEREAS: Foster children are being given cocktails of these powerful drugs and federal inspectors found more than half the children nationwide were poorly monitored.19 The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that between 20 and 39 percent of foster care children are prescribed psychotropic drugs.20 The Congressional Research Service found the number of children in foster care taking a psychiatric drug was more than four times the rate among children overall.21 One in nine children in foster care is prescribed antipsychotics, with potential life-debilitating and life-threatening effects.22

RECOMMENDATION

AMEND: Foster Care regulations to protect foster children and youths from the prescription of psychotropic drugs that can result in physical abuse or injury or endanger the child’s health.

The regulation addresses any child or youth under the care of state Child and Family Services in respect to: i) psychotropic drugs prescribed and administered them, ii) off-label prescribing, and iii) the observation of serious adverse effects of the prescribed psychotropic drugs and neglecting or failing to discontinue the medication, and where such acts result in disfiguring, physically damaging or life-threatening injury or effect to the child or youth. Therefore:

a) Such an act shall be considered chemical abuse.

b) Chemical abuse shall constitute “child abuse,” punishable in accordance with state child abuse laws.

 

References

1 “Child Endangerment Law and Legal Definition,” https://definitions.uslegal.com/c/child-endangerment/

2 “Reckless Endangerment Law and Legal Definition,” https://definitions.uslegaLcom/r/reckless-endangerment/

3 http://www.childsworld.ca.gov/res/OCAP/CAPTA-FactSheet.pdf

4 http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/lawsuit/adderall.html#.UzJJqs7Xlqw

5 “Pancreatitis Risk Seen in Schizophrenia Drugs,” The New York Times, 2 Sept. 2003, http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/02/health/pancreatitis-risk-seen-in-schizophrenia-drugs.html

6 Duff Wilson, “Weight Gain Associated with Antipsychotic Drugs,” The New York Times, 27 Oct 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/business/28psych.html

“Drugged as Children, Foster-Care Alumni Speak Out, Use of Powerful Antipsychotics on Youths in Such Homes Comes Under Greater Scrutiny,” The Wall Street Journal, 23 Feb 2014, http://online.wsj.com/news/artic!es/SB10001424052702303442704579361333470749104

7 http://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/0301/p617.html; “Psychotropic Drugs, Cardiac Arrhythmia, and Sudden Death,” J Clin Psychopharmacol, 2003;23: 58-77; http://resources.childhealthcare.org/resources/Psychotropic_Meds__Arrhythmia_and_Sudden_Death.pdf

8 http://www.medsafe.govt.nz/profs/PUarticles/antipsychdiabetes.htm; http://www.jabfm.org/content/16/3/251.full.pdf

9 https://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/06/briefing/2006-4210b_11_01_AdverseEvents.pdf

10 https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/UCM173233.pdf; https://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/06/briefing/2006-4210b_11_01_AdverseEvents.pdf

11 https://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/06/briefing/2006-4210b_11_01_AdverseEvents.pdf

12 “Worsening Depression and Suicidality in Patients Being Treated with Antidepressants Medications,” US Food and Drug Administration Public Health Advisory, 22 Mar. 2004.

13 “Worsening Depression and Suicidality in Patients Being Treated with Antidepressants Medications,” US Food and Drug Administration Public Health Advisory, 22 Mar. 2004.

14 “Anti-Psychotic Drugs Like Risperdal Overprescribed in Foster Children,” The Legal Examiner, 6 May 2014, http://newyork.legalexaminer.com/fda-prescription-drugs/anti-psychotic-drugs-like-risperdal-overprescribed-in-foster-children/

15 http://www.drugwatch.com/risperdal/

16 “Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome in Children and Adolescents on Atypical Antipsychotic Medication: A Review,” J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2009 Aug; 19(4): 415-422, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2861947/

17 Thomas J. Moore, Joseph Glenmullen, Curt D. Furbert, “Prescription Drugs Associated with Reports of Violence Towards Others,” Public Library of Science ONE, Vol. 5, Iss. 12, December 2010.

18 Elisabetta Patorno, et al., “Anticonvulsant Medications and the Risk of Suicide, Attempted Suicide, or Violent Death,” Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 303, No. 14, April 14, 2010; http://jama.jamanetwork.com/articJe.aspx?articleid=185674 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20388896.

19 “Federal study finds alarming use of antipsychotics among nation’s poor children, foster kids,” CalNews.com., 30 Mar. 2015, https//calnews.com/2015/03/30/federal-study-finds-alarming-use-of-antipsychotics-among-nations-poor-children-foster-kids/

20 Kelly Patricia O’Meara, “Congress Saying Foster Kids are ‘Over-drugged’ is Like Saying Nuclear Waste is ‘Overly-toxic,’” 3 June 2014, http://www.cchrint.org/2014/06/03/congress-saying-foster-kids-are-over-drugged-is-like-saying-nuclear-waste-is-overly-toxic/

21 Op. Cit., Kelly Patricia O’Meara, “Congress Saying Foster Kids…”

22 “New study finds that drugs for schizophrenics are regularly dispensed to foster kids,” Business Insider, 9 June 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/many -foster -kids-medicated-with-antipsychotics-2016-6

Take Action – Missouri Legislature – Foster Care

Periodically we let you know the progress of various proposed legislation making its way through the Missouri General Assembly and suggest ways for you to contribute your viewpoint to your state Representative and state Senator.

You can find your Representative and Senator, and their contact information, by entering your 9-digit zip code here.

This time, we’d like to discuss Senate Bill SB160, which Creates the Foster Care Bill of Rights, sponsored by Senator David Sater (R, District 29).

“This act establishes and enumerates the Foster Care Bill of Rights. The Children’s Division shall provide every school-aged foster child and his or her foster parent with an age-appropriate orientation and explanation of the bill of rights, as well as make them readily available and easily accessible online. Additionally, every Children’s Division office, residential care facility, child placing agency, or other agency involved in the care and placement of foster children shall post the bill of rights in the office, facility, or agency.”

This foster care bill of rights is primarily concerned with familial stability, which we think is a good thing. We would like to suggest an amendment aimed at reducing the amount of harmful psychotropic drugs regularly given to foster children in Missouri’s care.

Missouri Foster Care serves individuals age 0 to 21; not all states provide care to age 21. In FY2014 Missouri extended Medicaid benefits up to age 26 for individuals who have aged out of foster care. Medicaid pays for the psychotropic drugs given to foster children.

The high rates of psychotropic medication use in the Medicaid population, risks associated with these drugs, and research documenting inappropriate prescribing, have raised concerns, especially for children involved in the child welfare system.

Studies suggest that appropriate prescribing practices, that is, adhering to FDA-approved use and accepted clinical guidelines, may not always be followed for certain Medicaid populations such as the high-risk populations of children in foster care. In actual fact, multiple studies and reports have found that children in foster care are vulnerable to inappropriate or excessive medication use. Children in foster care are often prescribed more than one psychotropic medication at the same time. A review in Missouri once found some children in foster care prescribed five or more psychotropic drugs.

Psychotropic Drug Classes given to children in Missouri foster care (contact CCHR STL at CCHRSTL@CCHRSTL.ORG  for the complete report, or download it from cchrstl.org/foster.shtml):

ADHD
Antianxiety
AntidepressantAntipsychotic_Combo
Antidepressants_MAOIs
Antidepressants_SSRIsAndSimilar
Antidepressants_Tricyclics
Antipsychotics_FirstGeneration
Antipsychotics_SecondGeneration
Barbiturates
Bipolar Disorder
InsomniaNarcolepsySleepDisorders

Total foster care drug costs in Missouri have averaged roughly $16 Million per year, with a total for the five years 2010-2014 over $81 Million. All of these psychotropic drugs given to Missouri foster care children between the ages of 0 and 26 are harmful and can have serious side effects including violence and suicide.

The top costs are for ADHD drugs and Antipsychotics for all ages. ADHD drug costs appear to be increasing year over year. Babies less than a year old are more commonly given Barbiturates, one presumes as a remedy for insomnia. Barbiturates are highly dangerous because of the small difference between a
normal dose and an overdose.

For all these reasons, CCHR would like to see an amendment for SB160 to this effect:

Foster Children have the right:
(a) To be free of the administration of medication or chemical substances unless authorized by a physician,
(b) To be informed of the risks and benefits of psychotropic medication in an age appropriate manner,
(c) To tell their doctor that they disagree with any recommendation to prescribe psychotropic medication,
(d) To go to the judge with an advocate of their choice and state that they object to any recommendation to prescribe psychotropic medication,
(e) To refuse the administration of psychotropic or other medication unless immediately necessary for the preservation of life or the prevention of serious bodily harm,
(f) To refuse the off-label prescription of psychotropic drugs and at-risk polypharmacy,
(g) To have prescribing doctors disclose any financial ties they have to pharmaceutical companies in writing in an age appropriate manner.

Contact your Missouri state Representative and Senator, and let them know what you think about this. Such an amendment to the proposed legislation would certainly strengthen the rights of foster children and reduce the administration of psychiatric drugs, since they are all inherently damaging to young children and should not be held as standards of care.

For more information click here.