Carper calls for U.S. look at mood-altering drugs for kids in foster care

    U.S. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware is calling on the federal government to develop guidelines on how states monitor drugs for depression, anxiety, and ADHD prescribed for kids in foster care.

    A 2011 federal report revealed thousands of kids in foster care in five states were prescribed psychotropic drugs exceeding recommended maximum dosages.

    Hundreds were prescribed five or more drugs at once.

    “Instead of treating their underlying cause of their psychological problems, we’re treating the symptoms,” Carper said. “Not a good thing.”

    Last week, Carper sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services calling for a summit of state and federal officials to develop oversight guidelines for foster care programs.

    The Government Accountability Office report studied prescribing patterns in only five states, and did not include Delaware.

    A separate study, out of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, showed that the percentage of kids in foster care taking anti-psychotics increased in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware from 2002 to 2007.

    But during the same five-year period, the percentage of kids taking three or more types of psychotropic drugs decreased or held steady in all three states.

    Carey Miller, a Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman, said state-level guidelines already are being developed.

    “Pennsylvania has formed a work group that will be looking at the protocols and monitoring what we could be doing to ensure the health and safety of children who are in dependent care,” Miller said.

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