In the past, lawmakers didn’t think twice about how doctors treated foster children suffering from emotional traumas such as abandonment and abuse. Nobody controlled how often practitioners prescribed psychiatric drugs that had serious potential for doing more harm than good. Today, investigations into California’s foster care system shed light on the doctors who fuel medication problems by inappropriately prescribing narcotics to the state’s most vulnerable children – ultimately leading to three new California laws.
California has the largest foster care population in the country. In the last 20 years, the number of kids in California foster care has tripled.
Lawmakers in Sacramento have gone above and beyond other state legislatures to protect foster kids from suffering from questionable psychiatric care and inappropriate prescriptions that fail to treat their trauma’s underlying causes. This year, three laws took effect in California to take prompt, aggressive action to stop over-prescribing and put an end to harmful side effects in children such as sedation, diabetes, obesity, and irreversible tremors. There are three more related bills on the governor’s desk in addition to the new laws.
Senate Bill 1174, designed by Sen. Mike McGuire, requires annual monitoring of doctors with a history of over-prescribing. It allows the California Medical Board to take action against such physicians, even taking away their medical licenses. Senate Bill 1291 by Sen. Jim Beall pushes for better tracking of mental health services for Californian foster kids, as well as more transparency in the system. Senate Bill 253, by Sen. Bill Monning, requires doctors to submit further justification for prescriptions considered risky before the state will approve them.