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WESTPORT, CONN., JANUARY 3, 2012 – Ablechild co-founder Sheila Matthews will brief Connecticut State Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri today on the organization’s research into the over-prescribing of psychotropic drugs to children in foster care.
The parents’ rights organization is a sitting member of the Connecticut Behavioral Health Committee that reports directly to Governor Malloy. In today’s meeting, Matthews will share data from last month’s ABC News 20/20 report, which AbleChild helped develop. The show provided a first look at a new Government Accountability Report that found:
- Foster children were prescribed psychotropic drugs at rates nearly five times higher than non-foster children.
- More than a quarter of foster children were being prescribed at least one psychiatric drug.
- Hundreds of foster children received five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time, despite no evidence that this is safe or effective.
The meeting’s agenda includes a report on the $29,766,625,000 spent on psychiatric services by Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, and AbleChild research showing how making educational, language and vision and hearing/speech solutions available can cut costs while enabling true informed consent for parents. “The most important thing Connecticut can do now is to break the monopoly on psychiatric treatment,” Matthews says. “Medication shouldn’t be the first option addressing behavioral or learning issues and it certainly shouldn’t be the only one.”
In a November briefing with Malloy’s legislative aide, Michael Christ, Matthews also pressed for action on Proposed Bill 5007. If passed, the landmark legislation would require the state to inform parents of their rights regarding diagnosis and treatment of behavioral and mental health disorders in children.
Since 2005, Proposed Bill 5007 has remained stalled in the Connecticut Legislative Education Committee subject to reintroduction by long-time committee chair, State Representative Andy Fleischmann. Matthews says, “It’s extremely frustrating that no action has been taken on this bill for over five years while special-interest and industry-backed legislation not only moves through committees rapidly, its backers have been given fast-track access to the legislative process itself.”
Malloy is preparing his 2012 agenda, which will be announced shortly before the legislature convenes in February. “Ablechild is pleased to support Governor Malloy as he sets his course for the year ahead,” says Matthews. “Connecticut was the first state to prohibit schools from recommending the use of psychotropic drugs, three years before it became federal law. We hope Connecticut will continue to show leadership through best-practice guidelines that protect its most vulnerable residents.”
AbleChild is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to parents, caregivers, and children’s rights alike. The organization is a clearinghouse for objective information regarding ADD, ADHD, and other behavioral issues. All services AbleChild provides are free to the public. To learn more, visit www.ablechild.org.