|Sen Tom Carper: "We need to figure out what works."|
There's always a defining moment in history, I believe I just witnessed it, I never expected that defining moment to come from the voice of a 12 year old boy from the state of Texas.
Ke' Onte Cook gave evidence before the Senate and Congress today regarding his experience in Foster care. The Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security had gathered in the wake of a report by The US Government Accountability Office [GAO] that showed that the prescribing of drugs to children in state care is out of control.
Startling facts were revealed in the online stream:
- Children in Foster care were prescribed mind altering drugs up to 4.7 more times than children not in care.
- Thousands of children had received more than the recommended dose of mind altering drugs
- Over 600 children in state care were on 5 or more mind altering drugs at any given time
- 5,265 infants [under the age of 1] were prescribed mind altering drugs.
The bullet points above may shock you, what's even more shocking is that this data comes from just 5 States pooled in the GAO investigation. Can you begin to imagine the figure if all the US States were pooled?
Sen Brown [Massachusetts] told the congress that nearly 40% of Foster children in Massachusetts had been prescribed 1 or more psychiatric drug. On learning that over 5,000 infants across five States had been prescribed these drugs he said it was "shocking and disturbing".
Sen Carper, who chaired the meeting, added, "We can't stand idly by while children's lives are put in danger."
Sen Collins [Maine] added her disgust with, "I am troubled by the use of psychiatric drugs for use in children in Foster care." She also told congress that the GAO report had found that in Texas children in care were 53 more times likely to be prescribed 5 psychiatric drugs at once more than children not in care and added that there was thousands of infants on psychotropic drugs.
The Senate sat in stunned silence as they listened to a statement from 12 year-old Ke' Onte Cook. Ke' Onte had been place in care from the age of 6 and a half. He told the panel that he was told that if he didn't take his drugs he would be punished by not being allowed to watch TV. He did not know why he was on drugs or how many he was taking, he could not remember. Ke' Onte also informed the panel that later on he had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] Insomnia, Depression and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD] during which he could not process thoughts, felt glazed and tired, had stomach aches and a "lights out" mood. He added that he was first prescribed the medications [3 different drugs a day] because he was throwing tantrums and was upset after being taken into State care.
Sen Carper asked Ke' Onte how he managed to get off the medication. Ke' Onte informed him that he sought the help of an Attachment Therapist who talked to him about his history and added that "It helped me to get over the anger." When asked by Sen Carper if he had a message he would like to add Ke' Onte replied, "Medication isn't going to help children with problems, it just sedates them."
Sen Carper concluded that "We need to figure out what works." and told Ke' Onte, "Some good is going to come out of what you experienced."
Ke' Onte received a round of applause from the Senate and Congress... I would have given him a 21 gun salute.
GAO's full report can be read HERE
Here's Sen Carper's Opening Statement.
Back in March 2011 myself and Ablechild's Sheila Matthews exposed a billion dollar drug company law firm and their involvement in the Connecticut Foster care system. Full article HERE