A selection of The Imprint’s most impactful stories from the past year
A decade ago, thousands of California foster youth were placed on powerful psychotropic medications, despite a lack of evidence that they work well for children. These mind-numbing drugs carry significant side effects, and often leave youth feeling like zombies.
By 2020, thanks to investigative reporting by the Bay Area News Group and subsequent actions taken by the California Legislature, the number of foster youth prescribed these drugs had plummeted.
“By reducing these prescriptions for the children who don’t need them, California may have given them more opportunities to thrive,” Julio Nunes, lead author of a recent journal article on the state’s prescribing patterns, told The Imprint. “If they are not numbed, they can pay more attention in school and with friends, and have more meaningful conversations about their trauma with trusted professionals. That all increases their potential for growth.”
There are still plenty of states that are not properly tracking the use of psychiatric medications in foster care. As The Imprint’s Michael Fitzgerald reported, a federal audit of Indiana’s practices found that about one-third of foster youth were prescribed at least one psychotropic drug, almost always without the proper documentation.
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