DECEMBER 02, 2011
While the U.S. government is preoccupied monitoring and controlling what American children eat, it’s failing miserably to protect those in foster care from the devastating effects of potent, psychiatric medications that alter the mind.
Hundreds of thousands of foster children across the nation are being prescribed powerful psychiatric medications at doses that exceed the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), yet the feds are doing little to shield them. Within that number there is a subgroup that’s taking five or more psychiatric drugs simultaneously despite potential safety issues. In some cases the drugs aren’t even approved for this type of use the FDA, the federal agency charged with protecting public health by assuring the safety of medications and food.
The alarming details of the government’s failure to protect its most vulnerable citizens are featured in a federal report issued this week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress. It outlines the results of a two-year probe featuring five states—Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas. Of the approximately 100,000 foster kids studied, investigators found that nearly one-third were prescribed at least one psychiatric drug. Investigators also determined that foster children are almost five times more likely to take psychotropic drugs than kids who aren’t in the system.
Foster children less than a year old were nearly twice as likely to be on psychiatric drugs compared to non-foster kids, investigators found. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is being blamed for the crisis since it oversees Medicaid, which provides prescription drug coverage for foster children and has the power to withhold federal money from states that fail to comply with stricter rules.
While little kids are getting doped up by the government on potent psych drugs, HHS simply offers “informational resources for states to consider” for children in their custody with no follow-up or oversight. “HHS-endorsed guidance could help close gaps in oversight of psychotropic prescriptions and increase protections for these vulnerable children,” congressional investigators say in their report.
Ironically, the Obama Administration has put the bloated federal government stamp on other issues that don’t require it. For instance, under Michelle Obama’s multi-billion dollar law (The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act) various federal agencies—including HHS—have joined forces to control what children eat as well as their exercise habits. Passed by Congress last year, the measure especially targets poor and “at-risk” kids.
As part of that effort, the government actually wasted $2 million this year on a device that tracks what minority public children eat for lunch. The goal of that brilliant project is to calculate how many lunchtime calories poor and minority kids consume at five Texas elementary schools. High-tech cameras were installed in the cafeteria of one San Antonio campus to photograph the foods students put on their trays. The digital imaging later determines how many calories were consumed.
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