HEARING ADVISORY: Chairman Reichert Announces Hearing on Caring for Our Kids: Are We Overmedicating Children in Foster Care?

1102 Longworth House Office Building at 2:00 PM
May 22, 2014 — Hearing Advisory   

Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means, today announced that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the use of psychotropic medications among children in foster care.  The hearing will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 29, 2014, in room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building.

In view of the limited time available to hear from witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only.  Witnesses will include experts on the prescription and use of psychotropic drugs by children, and especially children in foster care. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.


Recent reports have highlighted how children in foster care are prescribed psychotropic drugs at very high rates.  According to data compiled by the Congressional Research Service, between 2008 and 2010, nearly one out of every four children in foster care was using a psychotropic medication on any given day—more than four times the rate among all children.  A recent Wall Street Journal story and a multi-part Denver Post series highlighted how youth in foster care may be prescribed these powerful, mind-altering drugs because they are misdiagnosed as having mental health disorders instead of being recognized as having problems stemming from the abuse and neglect they have experienced.

Congress has taken a number of steps in recent years designed to prevent the overuse of psychotropic drugs by children in foster care.  The Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-288) required States to describe how they consult with doctors to assess the health and wellbeing of children in foster care and determine appropriate medical treatment for them.  The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351) required States to ensure children in foster care have access to health and mental health care services and develop strategies for overseeing drugs prescribed to them.  Most recently, the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-34) added that States must develop protocols covering the use of psychotropic medication for children in foster care.

States have also taken positive steps to address concerns about the use of psychotropic medications by children in foster care.  These efforts include reviewing new prescriptions before they are approved, monitoring existing prescriptions, and examining data on prescription rates among youth in foster care.  For example, in Illinois, board certified child psychiatric consultants review all psychotropic medication requests.  Connecticut has hired a Chief of Psychiatry to oversee medications for youth in foster care.  Texas has a data system designed to ensure that psychotropic medications are prescribed within established guidelines.

In announcing the hearing, Chairman Reichert stated, “Our future lies with our nation’s children.  For kids in foster care, we have an added responsibility to help them succeed, including helping them overcome the trauma they experienced before, and in some cases since, they left their home.  Recent news reports have highlighted how powerful psychotropic drugs are prescribed at high rates to children in foster care, including by individuals who may misdiagnose the effects of trauma on these children as a mental health problem.  I look forward to hearing from experts on this issue, learning what States are doing to ensure the proper use of these medications, and discussing how the Federal government can better support efforts to provide youth in foster care with the help they need to become successful adults.


This hearing will focus on what is known about the use of psychotropic medications by children in foster care, how States have implemented recent Federal laws designed to ensure such medications are used appropriately, and how the Federal government can continue to work with States to improve the oversight of these medications to ensure youth in foster care receive appropriate help.


Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms.  From the Committee homepage, https://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.”  Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Please click here to submit a statement or letter for the record.”  Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information.  Attach your submission as a Word document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by June 12, 2014.  Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings.  For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.


The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.  As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee.  The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines.  Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below.  Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.

  1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments.  Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
  2. Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing.  Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased.  All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
  3. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons, and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears.  A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.

The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities.  If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested).  Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.

Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available online at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/.


SUBCOMMITTEE: Human Resources