Report: Foster children over-medicated with psychiatric drugs

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Thousands of foster children across Florida might be taking powerful psychiatric drugs they do not need, and the medications could be making their lives worse.

Doctors said a local 11-year-old who was removed from her mother’s care had post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD, attachment disorder, anxiety, depression, and optional defiant disorder.  A handful of five or six pills kept her under control.

However, the girl’s foster mother says the meds did the opposite.

“The medications enhanced and made the situation worse," she said.  "There were a couple different times to where we even had the police out looking for her with helicopters, and incidents where it took several police officers to have her Baker Acted."

The area mother says it took months of advocating and fighting for court approval to get her foster daughter weaned off the psychotropic drugs.

"I loved her then and I love her more now,” she said.  “And I don't know how the system, the doctors, the judge can get away with pushing these medications knowing the side effects, knowing that they cause a lot of problems."

Eighty percent of children enter foster care with significant mental health needs, but the powerful pills can have serious side effects.

A new report released Monday from the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General’s Office found thousands of these kids might be getting prescriptions they do not need, or the meds aren't monitored the way states require.

According to the data, in 2013 more than 17 percent of foster children here in the Sunshine State were taking psychiatric drugs.

"Hearing that doesn't surprise me, absolutely not," the foster mom offered.

For this family, the answer to a normal life for their foster was therapy and learning ways to face her feelings -- not popping another pill.

"That pill is not gonna stop that problem or that feeling if you don't work that feeling out," she added.