Foster Kids on Mind-Altering Drugs?
Why would a child as young as 3 ever be on mind-altering drugs? For the past eight months, the News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooters have poured through reams of state documents and discovered thousands of foster kids appear to be on powerful psychotropic drugs. Many of these children are barely in kindergarten. Some are mere toddlers.
"We didn't even know he was in the hospital until he called us from LaurelRidge himself," a woman we'll refer to as "Magdalana" tells us. We're disguising her name in order to protect the identity of her six year old grandson she's referring to.
She says he was confined to a psychiatric hospital following a temper tantrum when he called his grandmother for help.
"I mean he was like," Magdalana describes, "maybe you could say he looked more like a zombie."
Magdalana says a nurse confirmed her fears. Her grandchild was on 2 different psychotropic or mind-altering drugs, plus benadryl to help him sleep. As it turns out, Magdalana's grandchild isn't alone.
A sampling of state records released by the State Comptroller's office shows two out of three foster kids in texas appear to be on psychotropic meds. The Medicaid prescription records are from November of last year and show that many kids are taking two or more of these drugs.
Tanji Patton recently asked the President and CEO of the Children's Shelter in San Antonio, Jack Downey, "How big a problem do you think this is?"
Downey says, "I think it's far larger than you or I or anyone else suspects." This longtime advocate for children says his heart aches when he talks about the cases. He shared the story of one family he remembers in particular.
"We had a wonderful family of 5 boys," Downey recalls, "If they walked in right now you'd love them to death." The oldest was ten. The youngest was 3.
"We were directed by the state to take the boys to a psychiatrist," Downey says. "We did and they all came back on three meds...those boys no more needed meds than I did."
Patton asks, "Every child?" Downey replies, "Every child." So, why would a three year old need to be on psychotropic medications? "I have no idea. He was just the jolliest little kid," Downey tells us.
Who is prescribing these meds? You would think psychiatrists, right? Well, after pouring through thousands of documents, the News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooters found that's not always the case. Many are family practitioners.
State records show one of the biggest prescribers in San Antonio is a radiologist. Sure it's legal, but what does a radiologist know about a child's mental health? (11/11/2004 6:16:13 AM (WOAI News, San Antonio).
Want to see more: http://store.thebereancall.org/ProductDetails.aspx?productID=2501