At just 6 years of age, still grieving over the death of the only mother he’d ever known, his foster mother, Giovan Bazan received the first of many psychiatric “diagnoses” and drugs that would plague him for the next twelve years of his life. Moved from foster home to foster home, orphanages and other modes of state care, Giovan was stigmatized with a plethora of psychiatric diagnoses and drugs until the age of 18, when he could finally make his own medical decisions and quit. Now a child advocate working part time at the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) in Georgia, Giovan is on a mission: To get a full-time job with DFCS and help enact laws to combat the wholesale labeling and drugging of foster children. In the video below, Giovan tells his story and why he decided to fight back against the abuse of kids in foster care.
Foster kids—often removed from family homes because of abuse—are further abused when they are prescribed psychotropic drugs under state care. Many of these children are on cocktails of prescribed drugs, including antipsychotics and antidepressants with documented side effects of diabetes, stroke, mania, psychosis, tumors, coma, suicide and death.
Yet, the rates with which these children are being given drugs has been increasing. The antipsychotic use rate among foster kids increased by 5.6% between 2004 and 2007 (from 11.7 percent to 12.4 percent). Another study in Pediatrics, revealed that youth in foster care covered by Medicaid insurance receive psychotropic medication at a rate more than 3 times that of Medicaid-insured youth who qualify by low family income.
Only half of state child welfare systems have a policy to review usage of these drugs, and those are weak policies at that.
The psychiatric drugging of foster kids has caused so much concern nationally that in July 2010, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) started an investigation into the use of these drugs in foster care, as they are widely used in dangerous combinations, and for so-called “off-label” uses to treat symptoms for which they have not been medically approved. The GAO is looking into the estimated hundreds of millions of dollars of fraud arising from this and is collecting and analyzing data from Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon and Texas.