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Lawsuit alleges foster care children given drugs are in danger of physical harm

Posted at 8:04 PM, Jan 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-18 20:04:48-05

BALTIMORE — A federal class action lawsuit was recently filed against the state of Maryland alleging foster care children are being given psychotropic drugs and are at a heightened risk of serious short and long-term side effects.

Psychotropic medications are powerful drugs that directly affect chemicals in the brain that help to regulate emotions and behavior. This includes anti-anxiety agents, antidepressants, mood stabilizers and stimulants.

"Children in foster care often do not have a consistent interested party to coordinate treatment planning or to provide continuous oversight of their mental health treatment," the suit says.

In one example, the suit identifies a 16-year-old who overdosed on his medications when he was left in a motel room without supervision.

He was hospitalized for a week and placed back in a motel where he again overdosed and had to be hospitalized.

As a result, the 16-year-old suffered extreme weight gain, difficulty controlling his hands and arms and difficulty walking.

The boy currently remains in a residential facility and is in the legal custody of the state.

WMAR-2 News reached out to the Department of Human Services for comment and received this statement from Katherine Morris, DHS spokesperson:

Given that the lawsuit was just filed and the Department has not been formally served under the Federal Rules of Procedure, the Department has not been provided an opportunity to thoroughly review the formal complaint and is therefore unable to respond at this time.

As of October 2022, an estimated 2,581 children were in the legal custody of the Department of Human Services and Social Services Administration in Maryland according to the lawsuit.

The short and long-term impacts of psychotropic drugs on children are not yet full understood and as a result, most of these drugs have not been FDA approved.

The suit names the Maryland Department of Human Services and the state Social Services Administration.