Texas Spends Millions on Medications for Foster Care Children

Last Update: 1/10/2007 2:55:44 PM
Posted By: Maritza Nunez

Foster children are being prescribed powerful, mind-altering drugs and you're paying for it. The News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooters with new information tonight on a story we've been following for two years.

"I was on a number of different medications," said Chris, a former foster care child.

"I was on 7 different medications at once," said Ken, another former foster care child.

Chris and Ken are just two of the many former foster care children who say they were heavily medicated while in foster care.

A report released by the State Comptroller's office in 2004 shows two out of three foster kids were given some type of psychotropic, or mind-altering, medication for a period of time in 2003.

At the time, some child advocates questioned whether all these medications were really necessary.

"We don't deal with the problems these kids have. We give them a pill," said Dr. Tony Appel, a neuropsychologist.

Just before leaving office last month, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn issued another report stating that $39 million paid for medications for foster children in fiscal 2004.

Of that, $30 million were spent on psychotropic drugs, including anti-psychotic medications, stimulants, and mood stabilizers.

"We're taking away their future," added Dr. Appel.

Strayhorn's report calls for changes within the foster care system, including a new medical director to oversee the care and treatment given to foster children. As well as a medical passport, which is already being developed, to help keep foster kids' health records up to date as they are placed in different homes.

The Texas department of Health and Human Services told us today the agency has made great strides in reducing the number of foster care children on psychotropic medications since 2004.

Meantime, the new comptroller, Susan Combs, was sworn in last week. Her spokesperson says Combs is committed to children's issues and their welfare.