Senator McGuire convenes hearing on misuse of psychotropic medication in foster care promising forward progress on the issue

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sacramento, CA –During an emotional and informative Senate Human Services oversight hearing on the over-prescription of psychotropic drugs among California’s foster care youth, Senator Mike McGuire declared that the state must to do a better job of protecting its most vulnerable children.

“There’s no question that California’s foster care system has grown more addicted to mind-altering medication since the legislature’s original hearing on this disturbing subject nearly a decade ago,” Senator McGuire said. “Our state's foster youth deserve better, including access to proactive and sustained mental health services. When medication does become necessary, we need to create a better system that includes assessment and accountability measures.” 

During the hearing, Senator McGuire also acknowledged that the issue is bigger than a reliance on over-medication.

“What I see is a system of care that is in need of a new approach and reinvestment. Foster kids have witnessed unspeakable trauma and we must push aside the old excuses and politics and ensure foster youth have the services they need to heal and thrive, Said Senator McGuire.

During the hearing, more than a dozen witnesses testified to the issue of over-prescribed psychotropic medication in the foster care system – from a former foster youth who has survived the system and “found her voice” to directors of mental health and social service organizations.

Over the past several months, numerous experts and media outlets have reported that the state’s most vulnerable children – foster youth – have been over-prescribed mind-altering psychiatric drugs to control their behavior at alarming rates.

Nearly one in four youth in the state’s foster care system have been prescribed psychotropic medication and 56 percent of foster kids living in group homes are prescribed psychotropic drugs. Of the youth given those medications, nearly 60 percent were prescribed an anti-psychotic – the powerful drug class most susceptible to debilitating side effects.

“We can’t continue with the status quo. We can’t continue to rely on a pill as the primary method of treatment,” Senator McGuire said.

Concluding the four hour hearing, Senator McGuire said the committee will continue to advance the issue with several pieces of legislation that will be moving forward over the next two years.

 “We must do better for our kids and we will do better by moving these critical bills forward and holding the state accountable with additional hearings this fall,” Senator McGuire said.

For more information or questions, please contact Kerrie Lindecker, Communications Coordinator, at 707-319-3654, or email her at kerrie.lindecker@sen.ca.gov.