by Kevin Hall

If you follow the news, you have likely stumbled upon the recent national news about of the outrageous amount of psychiatric drugging of foster children. The US General Accounting Office did a two-year investigation of the drugging of foster children (those with no parents able to protect them against this abuse) and found that the children in the five states (Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas) reseached were, per ABC News, “being prescribed psychiatric medications at doses higher than the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).” Please look at the short ABC News video of kids describing the harm done to them with psychiatric drugs in foster care: .

“Children in Massachusetts fared worst. Thirty-nine percent of the foster care children aged 0-17 on Medicaid were prescribed at least one psychiatric drug. By comparison, 10 percent of non-foster care children in Massachusetts were prescribed at least one psychotropic medication under Medicaid. It’s serious enough when 10 percent of non-foster care children from our poorer communities are receiving psychiatric drugs; it’s even more tragic when 39 percent of our most poor and abandoned children are being inundated with these drugs”.(see Huffinggton Post article ).

Here’s a little story behind the story:
Three of the six states researched, Massachusetts, Texas and Florida contain three of the strongest branches of psychiatric watchdog group, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) and all three of these branches forwarded their state’s foster drugging information to the US GAO right when they announced that they were investigating this issue.

Furthermore, these CCHR branches and others had given this information to many of your legislators, media and government officials repetitively for at least seven to eight years. Here’s a little section on the subject from the 2007 CCHR New England Annual Report:

Research, Legislation and Government Actions

CCHR New England found that over 10% of kids in the Massachusetts Department of Social Services (now DCF, Department of Children and Families) were on at least three psych drugs at a time; 19.4% are on antidepressants, 9.4% are on antipsychotics, and 21% are on ADHD drugs. We also knew that restraint use on DSS kids was extremely high with one facility in Western, MA doing over 7,000 restraints on kids in under two years.

CCHR met with the new Commissioner of the Department of Social Services (DSS), Angelo McClain, and presented this information to him. Although his actions to reduce the drugging weren’t adequate at all in our view, he doesn’t like restraints at all and has started implementing a program that the Department of Mental Health (DMH) has done to greatly reduce restraints. Less than 1/3rd the amount of patients are restrained in DMH as they were two years ago. DSS will follow suit which will greatly reduced the harm, fear and intimidation caused by staff whipping kids face-first to the ground, pouncing on them and tying them up on restraint tables.

CCHR also got the DSS child-drugging statistics to the Massachusetts Pharmacy Director, let him know that he was also responsible as he doesn’t have to approve payment for drugging kids on three drugs at a time and asked several times, “What are you going to do about this?” He ignored several communications by phone, email and personal visit, but couldn’t fully avoid it when CCHR got the Boston Globe to ask. As a result, they are investigating every case of a Massachusetts child ages five and under being on three or more psych drugs. This is a start in the right direction.

At the time of this report, the drugging of Massachusetts foster children was at about 34% per their documents and 64% of these children were labeled with a mental disorder. Since then it has gone up.

Now, Commissioner McClain has followed through with his promise on restraint reduction but the drugging, per the GAO report, has gone up another 5%. Restraints are a form of psychiatric control but the profit-making comes from pushing the drugs and foster children have no power to say, “No.”

After the US GAO report, President Obama sent a letter to all the nation’s social services agencies directors, including Massachusetts DCF Commissioner Angelo McClain, and expressed his concern about this heavy drugging. Well, I’ve gotten this information streaming for years to Mr. McClain, the Massachusetts legislative body, the Governor’s office and several in the media yet most really don’t care and nothing’s being done to stop foster care children from being part of the psychiatric drug market (please see my Now Public article entitled, “Illegal Psychiatric Drug Marketing System Charted/Exposed for more details).

Once the US GAO report was released, I sent an email to Commissioner McClain and spoke to someone in his office to ask if he would now do anything to reduce the drugging of foster kids under his care in Massachusetts, statistically the worst foster child drugging state investigated. The answer was dead silence.

State social services agencies create tremendous harm and hide under the excuse that some parents are bad and aren’t fit to raise them. Although that’s obviously true, it certainly doesn’t justify how they are generally far more abusive to kids than bad parents. For profit, they have turned these children into a psycho-pharma drug market and for that, should not be supported whatsoever. My feeling is that Commissioner McClain and all the others involved in this severe human rights violation just want this story to blow over so the money can keep flowing at the expense of children.

Please DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN! If you call your legislators and your state social services office to demand they stop drugging foster kids for profit you will help. Blogging about this issue and getting friends and neighbors involved will also help. Being silent makes you part of the problem as your tax dollars are stolen to harm these children. It’s up to you. You can do something about it.

Kevin Hall
Citizens Commission on Human Rights
New England Director