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June 19, 2019

EXCLUSIVE: ACS rolling out plan to curb psych meds like Prozac, Adderall for foster kids

May 28, 2018
Fewer foster children will take psychiatric drugs like Prozac (pictured) and Adderall under a new city policy. (Darron Cummings/AP)

Fewer city foster kids will take psychiatric drugs like Prozac and Adderall under a new policy to be rolled out this week by the Administration for Children’s Services.

Too many foster children take the drugs, say city officials. Nationwide, a third of teenage foster kids are on psychiatric meds, data shows.

ACS officials hope the plan will improve foster children’s psychiatric care.

“More children in foster care will get the counseling and support they need to thrive, with medication administered carefully and only when necessary,” said ACS Commissioner David Hansell.

He promised that the children’s “families will be engaged and empowered throughout the process.”

Birth parents are already required to consent before a kid goes on medication — but under the new regulations, the consent requirement will become more arduous.

Parents will receive forms detailing the risks of medications, and telling them if a doctor is proposing to use them in a way that’s not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

They’ll also get information on alternatives like therapy or counseling, and have a chance to ask that those options be tried before drugs.

Administration for Children's Services Commissioner David Hansell.
Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner David Hansell. (Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News)

Consent forms will expire after six months when a child first starts a psych medication, and then every year after that.

ACS has the power to override a refusal if it determines that a parent’s objection is unreasonable.

It’s not uncommon for kids as young as 5 to be on four or five different medications, and the drugs sometimes make them so out of it they can’t concentrate at school, said Dr. Martin Irwin, the medical director of psychiatry and behavioral health at ACS.

The drugs can also cause kids to gain as much as 80 pounds.

Under the new policy ACS will do an automatic review if kids are put on a high number of medications, or a high-risk drug being used against FDA instructions, or if they’re very overweight.

Hansell said the plan would “put New York City at the forefront of addressing this very serious, national issue and we hope serve as a model for the rest of the country.”

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