Many Foster Kids Inappropriately Prescribed Psychiatric Drugs

Some children may be getting meds they don't need, others may be going without drugs that may help.
Some children may be getting meds they don't need, others may be going without drugs that may help.

HealthDay News — A new report finds that foster children are often given powerful psychiatric medicines without regard for proper safeguards.

The report, coming from the inspector general's office at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), finds that 1 in 3 foster children sampled in 5 states received the drugs without treatment plans or follow-up, the Associated Press reported. Both steps are considered standard for proper psychiatric care. 

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And while some children may be getting medicines they don't need, others may be going without drugs that can help them. Many children may not be receiving drug therapy that could help them better socialize or concentrate at school, the report found. The drugs under review included those used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Foster children were more prone to receive these medications than children in the general population, the report found.

The report authors are recommending that the HHS Administration for Children and Families work with states to improve oversight on a case-by-case basis. Responding to the report, the agency said that it might require additional legal authority to do so. The care of foster children is the shared responsibility of federal, state, and local agencies, the AP noted. Complicating the issue is the fact that the well-being of any one foster child is typically divided between foster parents, birth parents, relatives, and case workers – upping the odds that miscommunications between those parties will affect the child's medical care.

AP News Article
Office of Inspector General Report