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Thousands of Foster Kids Receive Psychiatric Drugs Without Safeguards

Conversely, Kids Who Need Drugs Go Untreated

Thousands of foster children may be getting powerful psychiatric drugs prescribed to them without basic safeguards, according to a report released by the Health and Human Services (HHS) inspector general’s office. The report found that about 1 in 3 foster kids from a sample of states were prescribed psychiatric drugs without treatment plans or follow-up, standard steps in good medical care.

Foster kids are much more likely to receive psychiatric drugs than children overall. However, investigators also said that children who need medication to help them function at school and in social settings may be going untreated.

The inspector general is recommending that the HHS Administration for Children and Families develop a strategy to help states meet their current requirements for prescribing psychiatric drugs to foster children, and to generally raise standards for case-by-case oversight.

The federal government provides grants to state programs and also covers health care for foster children through Medicaid, which spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually on psychiatric drugs. It is estimated that 120,000 children in foster care take at least one psychiatric medication.

Source: STAT, September 17, 2018

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