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Resolution

Psychiatric Drugs & Foster Care

WHEREAS, children of color are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system with African-American children representing the biggest segment within the child welfare system; and

WHEREAS, the FDA has now published strong warnings about the dangers of psychiatric drugs being administered to children with side effects such as aggression, mania, heart attacks, suicide, and sudden death; and

WHEREAS, since 1997 funding for children with "special needs" became linked to psychiatric labeling and drugging with studies now showing the number of children labeled as "special needs" jumped from pre-1997 levels of 10% to now over 60% of foster children labeled as "special needs"; and

WHEREAS, the California Youth Connection has stated that a group home can be paid an additional $2,000 to $6,000 per foster youth for overseeing and administering psychiatric drugs to children; and

WHEREAS, the California Rules of Court, #1432:5(g) states, in emergency situations, psychotropic medications may be administered to a dependent with or without court authorization or court delegation of authority to a parent in accordance with Welfare and Institutions Code section 369, with no clear definition of what constitutes an "emergency"; and

WHEREAS, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 established a special $2,000 bonus for a county to be paid for each "special needs" child whose family rights are terminated and the child is adopted out of the home; and

WHEREAS, guardians and foster parents have inherent conflicts of interest when additional monies are made available to them should they consent to the use of psychiatric drugs of foster youth in their care; and

WHEREAS, without a recent past history of psychiatric medication use, any new label and prescription becomes suspect as to the legitimacy of the medical need for foster youth to consume dangerous psychiatric drugs; and

WHEREAS, the San Francisco Chronicle also reported on June 11, 2006, that the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Foster Care heard multiple reports from foster youth complaining about their terrible experiences with psychiatric drugs; and

WHEREAS, investigations in Texas, Florida, and Minnesota have also discovered a startling percentage of foster youth on mind-altering drugs, with the State Controller of Texas reporting that of the 12,000 foster youth who received psychotropic drugs in 2004, each child averaged 21 psychotropic drug prescriptions a year.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the state and federal government pass legislation to end the use of psychiatric drugs for behavior control of foster youth where there has been no medical or mental health finding that indicates a need for such medication; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that foster youth should be given full and searching physical examinations by non-psychiatric medical professionals to search for underlying physical illnesses or deficiencies in addition to a mental health evaluation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP demands that while in the custody of the state, a foster home, or other non-family-of-origin care, no child should be prescribed or otherwise be compelled to take psychiatric drugs until full informed consent is obtained; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that in all cases where parental rights have not been terminated, parents will have the right to demand due process in controlling all attempts to medicate their children for previously Undiagnosed psychiatric conditions. Their rights shall include, but not be limited to, second opinions, legal guidance, and support from the advocacy agency of their choice.

Derrick Lewis - Youth & College Hero

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