TODAY: Senators McGuire and Mitchell Lead Oversight Hearing on Scathing State Audit of Psych Meds Prescribed to Foster Youth

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Sacramento, CA – In response to California’s Auditor declaring last month that all levels of government in California have “failed to adequately oversee the prescription of psychotropic medications to children in foster care” and it disclosed a system-wide failure regarding the tracking of psychotropic medication patterns, an oversight hearing in the State Capitol will be held to officially present the findings and begin to outline solutions.

Today, the Senate Human Services Committee, chaired by Senator Mike McGuire and Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee #3, chaired by Senator Holly Mitchell, will jointly hold an oversight hearing at 1 p.m. to consider recommendations of the Bureau of State Audits (BSA) and their review of psychotropic medication use on foster children. The hearing, in Room 3191 of the State Capitol, follows release of the BSA’s report three weeks ago, “California’s Foster Care System: The State and Counties Have Failed to Adequately Oversee the Prescription of Psychotropic Mediations to Children in Foster Care.”

The audit and hearing were initially scheduled to be released and held in June, however at the last moment the Department of Health Care Services notified the Auditor that it had failed to provide 617 million medical service records that were relevant to the Auditor’s review. After a two month delay, the audit was finalized and recommended better state oversight of county prescribing patterns to foster youth. One key finding is the need to improve the current system of tracking prescription use which, in many cases, involves a foster parent taking a doctor’s note to the social worker for input into the statewide database.

The issues have been brought to light over the last two years as the Senate Human Services Committee has held a series of oversight hearings culminating with the State Auditor’s Report.

The auditor found that in many cases, counties weren’t receiving the mandated permissions prior to prescribing these mind-numbing drugs, counties and the state have not been uploading and tracking prescription data and that children were prescribed multiple psychotropic medications, medications in higher dosages and medications without recommended follow up doctor’s visits at significant rates. The report also identifies a lack of concurrent psychosocial services provided to children who are taking psychotropic medication. Data in the auditor’s report also shows that more than one-third of all paid psychotropic medications were for anti-psychotic drugs, which pose significant risks for side effects for children.

Testifying at today’s hearing are:

  • Elaine M. Howle, California State Auditor
  • Will Lightbourne, Director, Department of Social Services
  • Jennifer Kent, Director, Department of Health Care Services
  • Frank Mecca, Executive Director, County Welfare Directors Association
  • Barry Zimmerman, Director, Ventura County Human Services Agency
  • Mary Adèr, Deputy Director, County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California
  • Dr. William Arroyo, Medical Director, Children’s System of Care, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health  
  • Bill Grimm, Senior Attorney, National Center for Youth Law 
  • Carroll Schroeder, Executive Director, California Alliance of Children and Family Services
  • Tisha Ortiz, National Center for Youth Law
  • Mariah, California Youth Connection
  • Dr. Lynn Thull, Mental Health Policy and Practice Improvement consultant, California Alliance of Child and Family Services

The hearing is open to the public and folks can watch the proceedings online at