Kids At Risk Action reports on the issues of child abuse. The COVID virus is causing a

second pandemic

of domestic violence and child abuse and trauma.

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and alert your State Representative to the needs of at risk children where you live.

This article by CASA guardian ad Litem Mike Tikkanen addresses the

overuse of medications in place of mental health treatment for State Ward children.

 

in 2015, nearly half of State Ward children living in residential treatment centers or group homes were forced to take psychotropic medications. In Texas, 80% of boys in group homes were forced onto those drugs. The suicidal ideation warning on each package of Prozac is there for a reason.  Suicide is now the 3nd leading cause of death among 10 to 24 year-olds.

These drugs are used to subdue children. More often than not, the necessary therapies are non existent and the children suffer because of it.

I have visited four year olds in suicide wards, and been asked by children in my caseload to please not make me take these drugs & written about the 7 year old foster boy that explained why Prozac drove him to hang himself (and leave a note saying so).

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By April Hunt
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia taxpayers stand to save millions — and help foster children in the process — under a new review being developed for the medications given to kids in care.

A national foundation focused on child welfare is footing at least $75,000 of the bill to figure out the best way to conduct an independent clinic exam of children taking mind-altering drugs.

Better oversight of antidepressants, mood stabilizers and other psychotropic medications given to foster children is expected to reduce their usage — and their hefty price tag.

“You are going to save money, and you’re going to provide good medical care,” said Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur.

The state spends $7.87 million a year on psychotropic medications, according to Medicaid records. More than a third of foster children are prescribed the drugs, compared with about 4 percent of the general youth population.

Oliver first tried to tackle the problem with a bill this past legislative session. Republicans and Democrats lauded the idea but raised questions about how to pay for setting up a program.

House Bill 23 was put on hold, open for review next year, once it became clear that Casey Family Programs would step forward with money to develop the pilot program.

The foundation is also providing staff to work with state mental health experts and child advocates to figure out what should flag a review, such as children on multiple medications that do the same thing or children too young to be on certain drugs.

“All too often medications can be the first and only solution, and that in and of itself isn’t a solution,” said Page Walley, a clinical psychologist who heads Casey’s strategic consulting arm. “Georgia is really taking the lead on this and could create a system that can be repeated across the nation.”

Those working on the system are expected to develop a draft plan by late summer. The team includes Human Services Commissioner Clyde Reese, Melissa Carter of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory University, and Michelle Barclay with the state Supreme Court.

Gov. Nathan Deal, himself a former juvenile court judge, also has met with the team and expressed an interest in the issue.

“The governor looks forward to seeing how [this] unfolds,” Deal spokeswoman Stephanie Mayfield said.

That level of attention alone could lead to changes. Georgia has so far avoided a high-profile death like that of a 7-year-old foster boy who killed himself in Florida while taking three powerful psychotropic medications. None of the drugs Gabriel Myers was on had had been approved for use in children.

Still, a 2010 investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed several companies operating foster care homes in the state had repeatedly used psychotropic medications to “subdue” children.

“If anything, we’ve now got people talking about how a child ends up on a third medication or what it means to be on multiple drugs,” Barclay said. “It’s a starting point. We’re going to experiment and see how far it goes.”

 

In some states it’s worse.  The Netflix piece on Gabriel Fernandez foster care death is a wake up call to us all.

#gabrielfernandez

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As a new CASA guardian ad Litem volunteer I was stunned by the Prozac, Ritalin and other psychotropic medications prescribed to my seven, eight and nine year old State Ward children. About 1/3 of all state ward children (nationally) are forced onto psychotropic medications.  Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death among 10 to 24 year olds.

 Over 1 million children under 6 are prescribed psychiatric drugs in America today.  In 2014, 20,000 one and two year old’s were on Prozac like drugs & *Johnson & Johnson was fined billions of dollars for illegally selling those drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children…

The child psychiatrist working my child protection cases had hundreds of State Ward kids to watch over and no way to provide a consistent presence or adequate safety program to her clients.  Not her fault.  It’s all about how this community values other peoples children.

20 years later, we are stuffing suicidal children overnight in emergency room beds because there are not enough mental health beds and staff to deal with them (and we wonder why kids cut themselves, stab schoolmates, punch teachers and attempt suicide).  Suicide rates in Anoka County almost doubled from 1999 to 2015.

There are 1000 emergency psychiatric visits monthly at Hennepin Healthcare many of them children (a single metro hospital).

Multiple mental health facility closures at MN’s rural hospitals, hospitals turning away mental health patients    , dysfunctional group homes, communities refusing to allow mental health group homes and services in the neighborhood are exacerbating already serious troubleq we have facing this crisis.

The costs of crime mental health disorders are horrendous – suicides from trauma and abuse are common and predictable.

These MPR short stories clearly articulate the sadness families face dealing with mental health crisis in my state of Minnesota.

It’s time we embraced the problem with the intention of solving it.

 

By 2017 more than 13% of 12 to 25 year old Americans had symptoms consistent with an episode of major depression in the previous year – a 62% increase in 8 years.

 

 

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