For everyone concerned about over-medication of foster children and youth, the May 29 Congressional hearing, “Are We Overmedicating Children in Foster Care?” chaired by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) provides food for thought and for action.
Access the hearing notes: http://docs.house.gov/Committee/Calendar/ByEvent.aspx?EventID=102278 or watch Dawna’s testimony video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1jZC69kjGM
Dawna Zender Hovenier, a 21-year-old former foster youth affiliated with the Mockingbird Society, spoke movingly about her personal struggle to escape from harmful medication. Consigned to a locked institution for seven months, she was forced to take psychotropic drugs that made her a “zombie.” The total cost of her institutionalization was $120,000.
Dawna was forced to take the medications until the day in December 2010 when, on her 18th birthday, the child welfare authorities lost legal control. On that day she was turned out from the locked institution to fend for herself. With the help of her adoptive father–her former CASA–he tapered off the drugs, tapering gradually because “cold turkey” cessation would have been dangerous. She had to manage the withdrawal on her own because local psychiatrists refused to treat her, fearing legal liability if the withdrawal did not go smoothly.
Read the other reports from the hearing from the GAO, Dr. Phil, and others from the record yourself: