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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Overmedicating children and youth in foster care

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Last Friday night, Diane Sawyer and ABC World News reported on a year-long investigation by the Government Accounting Office that found that children and youth in foster care - even infants as young as a year old - were over-prescribed psychiatric medications or inappropriately receiving psychiatric medication for conditions that did not exist. In addition, the GAO report asserts that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has not done enough to to protect the overmedication of children and youth in foster care.

The GAO report findings are startling. Compared to their non-foster care counterparts:

  • Overall, children and youth in foster care are 9 times more likley to receive psychiatric medications in which there was no FDA-recommended dosage for their age
  • Babies less than one year old in foster care were two times more likely to be prescribed psychiatric medication
  • Children in foster care in Texas were 53 times more likely to be prescribed five or more psychiatric medications
  • In Michigan, children in foster care are 15 times more likely to be prescribed five or more psychiatric medications
  • In Massachusetts, children were 19 times more likley to be prescribed five or more psychiatric medications
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Read the full article here.

ABC's resource page on organizations advocating for children and youth in foster care is available here.

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