exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Study sought on drugs prescribed to foster kids


Study sought on drugs prescribed to foster kids

November 20, 2003

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE - The Department of Children and Families is seeking a study to examine whether psychotropic drugs are being properly prescribed to the thousands of foster children taking them.

The department is working with the Florida Psychiatric Association, Florida Medical Association and the University of Florida on a plan to review what drugs are being prescribed, by whom, to whom and why, DCF Secretary Jerry Regier told a Senate committee Wednesday.

He also is working with the UF medical school to set up a consultation line that doctors, psychiatrists, parents or judges could use if they had questions about a child's use of prescribed drugs.

The planned study could include a review of every case in which a child is prescribed a psychotropic drug or a statistically significant cross-section of cases.

In the fiscal year that ended in June 2002, the department said at least 5,137 foster children were prescribed psychotropic drugs, including 550 children 5 and younger. Nearly 28 percent of foster children 13 and older were prescribed such drugs. The figures were based on Medicaid records, and did not include data from HMOs or private insurance.

The Senate Children and Families Committee expressed concerns about the number of children in state care being prescribed such drugs. Dr. Daniel Castellanos, a University of Miami professor and a member of the psychiatric association, said a number of factors could be involved in prescribing drugs to children and that it should be expected that abused and neglected children are given the drugs at a higher rate than other children.

"There will be more problems if you're removed from your family or if you're moved from one foster home to another to another," he said.

But Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Fort Lauderdale, said that the percentage of children taking prescribed drugs seems to be very high and the department does not have enough data to show the usage rate is justified.

"The secretary has the responsibility to collect the data to make sure that we are making accurate diagnoses and are not just medicating our kids until they turn 18 and then putting them on the streets and saying "Oh, by the way you might be addicted to some of these medications we've been putting you on the last 18 years,' " Campbell said.

2003 Nov 20