As published on the Chronicle for Social Change:
On Sunday, a powerful part 1 of the San Jose Mercury News series “Drugging Our Kids” shed light on the many facets of the overuse of psychotropic (mind-altering) medications with foster kids. In addition to the main article, there were local pieces detailing medication practices in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Pasadena. We at the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) are thankful for the coverage and additional push for legislators to act now as there is much to be done to reign in dangerous prescribing practices and to end the silencing of foster children who are usually medicated and labeled inappropriately for expressing trauma, grief, or frustration with the very real situations in which they are surviving. Karen de Sá spoke live about the series first part on KPCC, listen to it here. KCRW also is highlighting the piece here.
We wanted to highlight some points made in that conversation.
Rochelle Trochtenberg highlighted the importance of youth voice in the process of determining treatment and care. “…one thing youth would say is that they often feel silenced when they try to advocate for themselves or to have a voice throughout their time in care. Foster parents, social workers, case managers, therapists, teachers, etc often have more voice in influencing how youth are treated. Youth should have a voice too!!! Nothing about us, without us…is what youth are saying.” by rochelle.hctayc 12:49 PM
Lee Collins summarized much of the conversation about policies saying, “Sounds like this: 1. Need better and more timely data from DHCS. 2. Need an entity to watchdog that data, to track the emergence of “trendy” drugs. 3. Need a consultation service upon which Social Workers and the Court (and unsure psychiatrists) can rely. 4. Need solid clinical training for child psychiatrists. 5. Need to develop individual “report cards” for systems and their participating psychiatrists. Nothing deodorizes quite like light and air.” by Lee Collins 12:53 PM
Collins summary points the way forward and Bill Grimm will be advocating for many of these points today at the Expert Panel meeting in Sacramento with the Department of Health Care Services and Department of Social Services. NCYL believes the time is now for immediate action. We can’t keep waiting to address what everyone acknowledges is a serious problem.
Anna Johnson is a Policy Analyst at the National Center for Youth Law.