Missouri Department of Social Services Sued by Saint Louis University and Child Advocates
The National Center for Youth Law, Attorneys for Children’s Rights, and Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics filed a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Social Services.
The federal lawsuit regards foster care children who were inappropriately given psychotropic drugs and the systemic lack of oversight of the medications. It is the first of its kind to solely focus on psychotropic drugs given to children in foster care. The lawsuit is a result of several children in the Missouri foster care system that were inappropriately given drugs.
One of the children involved is a 14-year-old boy who was prescribed up to 7 psychotropic drugs at one time.
His former foster parent said when she picked up the boy she was given a grocery bag full of medications, but not information on his medical history or how to properly administer the drugs. The children’s attorneys are asking that a federal district judge grant the lawsuit class-action status, and order Missouri to change protocols that lead to the overprescribing of drugs.
His former foster parent had to terminate her role after the boy threatened her life, but she still visits him. She says he was falling asleep in the day, lethargic, and slurring his speech. He also claimed that voices were telling him to kill himself.
The other children involved in the lawsuit are sisters, ages 2 and 3, who were described the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.
The drug Risperdal, is not even FDA-approved for children under the age of 5.
The drugs in question have dangerous side effects, especially in the undeveloped brains of children. They can cause twitching, Type 2 diabetes, psychosis and suicidal thoughts. Deputy Director of Litigation Strategy at Children’s Rights, Sara Bartosz, says, “The bottom line is young kids, still developing bodies and brains, are exposed to powerful psychotropic medications in what is in almost in all circumstances off-label prescriptions.”
The lawsuit aims to end psychotropic drugs being prescribed as “chemical straight-jackets” for foster care children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or conduct disorder.