Whether under the care of Child Protective Services, Departments of Family and Child Services, or
Youth Welfare Offices, foster children—often removed from family homes because of abuse—are furthered
abused when they are prescribed psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs. Some US states report that more than
60% of foster children are prescribed mood-altering drugs (at a rate 300% above the national average).
Already troubled over their circumstances, these children are drugged for emotional and behavioral issues,
sometimes with tragic outcome.
Take, for example, 7-year-old Gabriel Meyers, who didn’t want soup for lunch one Thursday in April
2009. He was sent to his room after he threw away his soup, kicking his toys around and threatening to
kill himself. Around 1 p.m., police responded to a frantic call and found Gabriel had hanged himself.
He’d been prescribed a cocktail of psychiatric drugs, including an antidepressant that the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) warned could lead to children committing suicide.1
Psychiatrists prescribed 93% of the psychotropic medication dispensed to foster youths, according to a
• In Australia, one in four foster children was taking psychotropic drugs, and in residential homes,
where children live in small groups supervised by social workers, the rate of drug use is 50%. Foster children
are being medicated with psychotropic drugs at 10 times the rate of other children. 3
• In Ontario, Canada, psychotropic drugs are prescribed to nearly half of the state wards accounting for
drug prescriptions at a rate three times that of children in the general population.4
• In 2007, in Texas $37.9 million was spent on psychiatric drugs for foster children.5 Pharmaceutical
companies have played a major role in encouraging their increased use on foster care clients. They participate
in aggressive marketing, and conduct misleading research about efficacy and safety.6
• The United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971 requires governments to protect
children, including those in foster care from excessive and unwarranted exposure to psychotropic drugs.
Psychotropic drugs can be prescribed only for medical purposes, yet foster care youth are routinely prescribed
drugs for behavioral control.
1“Psychotropic Drug Abuse in Foster Care Costs Government Billions,” Politics Daily, 17 June 2010.
2 Julie Zito, “Psychotropic Medication Patterns Among Youth in Foster Care,” Pediatrics, Vol. 121, No. 1, Jan. 2008, pp. e157-e163.
3 Caroline Overington, “Foster kids medicated for ‘mental health,’” The Australian, 4 Nov. 2008.
4 “Nearly half of children in [Canadian] Crown care are medicated,” Globe and Mail, 9 June 2007.
5 Evelyn Pringle, “Psychiatric Drugging of Children Intolerable-Betrayal of Innocence,” Lawyers and Settlements.com, 8 Mar. 2009.
6 Op. cit. Politics Daily.