Report finds foster care abuse, neglect

Date: 2006-06-25

Report finds foster care abuse, neglect

APRIL CASTRO
Associated Press Writer

Texas Comptroller and independent gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn speaks during a news conference Friday in Austin. She discussed the findings of her investigation into possible Medicaid prescription drug fraud and abuse of children in the Texas foster care system. 
 
AUSTIN (AP) About 100 Texas children were treated for poisoning by medications they were given while in state foster care in 2004, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn said Friday.

Her investigation found that large numbers of psychotropic drugs are being prescribed to children in the foster care system, "even though, according to the FDA, many of these drugs are not approved for children and have serious side effects such as suicidal tendencies, diabetes and cardiac arrhythmia."

In addition to the poisonings, her report found that 142 children gave birth and 63 were raped while in state foster care during the state's 2004 fiscal year. In three years, 116 died, Strayhorn said.

Strayhorn said she plans to wrap up the investigation next week but accused a state agency of hampering the investigation by withholding 2005 statistics.

"As alarming as these numbers are, we can only imagine how much worse the fiscal 2005 data is because Governor Perry's Health and Human Services Commission has refused to provide the data needed to complete my investigation," said Strayhorn, who is running against Perry as an independent candidate for governor.

A spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

More than 30,000 children are in state foster care.

The Texas Legislature last year passed a measure aimed at reforming the state's Child Protective Services agency, including a mandate to hire more case workers.

Perry's campaign called Strayhorn's attack an "effort to exploit child tragedies for political gain.

"With her support evaporating, her poll numbers dropping and her campaign stagnating, Carole Strayhorn seems desperate to change the subject and is sadly not above exploiting child tragedies to do it," said Perry

campaign spokesman Robert Black. "What a despicable thing to do."

Black said that Strayhorn's report ignores CPS reforms made in 2005.

Strayhorn argued that making the numbers public is vital to correct problems within the system.

Strayhorn expects to conclude her investigation, with or without the 2005 data, and report it to the Medicaid and Public Assistance Fraud Oversight Task Force next Thursday.

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