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Foster-Care Centers and Public Health Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 11th, 2020

Foster care is a system in which an underage in need is placed into a foster family or children’s family home for upbringing on a paid basis. Today, health and foster care organizations are trying to control thousands of troubled children in an inappropriate way—by giving them untested and often not approved for children psychiatric drugs (De Sa). To see how foster care children drugging affects adopting these children, and its overall impact on the families in the US, children drugging phenomena in California and New York–two states with high unacceptable drug prescription should be considered.

Foster Care in California

Every year about a quarter of million children in the US enter foster care. Almost twenty percent of them—in California. There, twenty-five percent of adolescents receive untested psychotropics, which is four times more than anywhere else in the US (Zlotnick et al.). De Sa says that today, foster system care in California “has grown dependent on quick-fix, taxpayer-funded, big-profit pharmaceuticals…” (par. 6).

Drugging of Children

Caregivers usually use drugs to calm down children who have poor mental health. However, most of the time no one mentions these medications’ dangerous side effects such as obesity and diabetes. Also, there are cases of persistent tics and brain shrinkage (De Sa).

California’s Foster Care Drug Costs

California’s foster care population is twice as big as the population of foster care in New York which has the second-largest foster care community nationwide. Over the past ten years, California spent over $200 million on psychotropic drugs, which is about 70 percent of total foster care drug spending in the US (De Sa).

Increasing the Use of Antipsychotics

Over the past decade, sixty percent of children were given antipsychotics. These drugs should be prescribed for people with severe mental diseases. However, the doctors give them to California foster children with behavior problems (De Sa).

Medication of Young Children

Even though the federal government admits drugs are not safe for children, thousands of kids under five years old have been given the psychotropics. Over the past decade in California about 300 thousand children have been prescribed these drugs each year (De Sa).

Medication in Group Homes

Today, fifty percent of foster kids in California’s group homes are given psychotropic drugs. Children who refuse to take medications are punished. The punishments are very harsh. For example, punished children are not allowed to leave the building (De Sa).

Several Drugs at a Time

De Sa states that “12.2 percent of California foster children who received a psychiatric drug in 2013 were prescribed two, three, four or more psychotropic medications at a time — up from 10.1 percent in 2004” (par. 16). Such drug multiplying usually remains unnoticed falling into uncharted medical history (De Sa).

The Beginning of Prescriptions

The psych medication for a foster child can begin with the prescription for stimulants. However, during the crisis the drugging increases (De Sa).

Attempts to Resolve the Drugging Problem

In the year 2012, in California, the government has started the investigation of foster care doctors’ mistreatment. The governor of California has signed the controversial bill later. The bill says that doctors who prescribed children more than two psychotropic medications at a time are at risk of losing their doctor’s licenses.

Foster Care in New York

There is no much difference between California and New York foster care systems, and particularly in drugging children. Doctors treat children as people with schizophrenia. Former foster youth says that nobody liked to be sent to hospitals (Edelman and Petty).

Doctors’ Rejection

When the doctors are questioned about drugging children in foster care, they deny the accusations, saying that medications are used only for necessary medical reasons, not to sedate children (Edelman and Petty). However, sedative drugs can be prescribed to kids in crisis. Dr. Julie Holland mentions that if someone gets out of control and becomes dangerous for themselves and others, they would be given an injection (Edelman and Petty).

Attempts to Resolve the Drugging Problem in New York

Several attempts to change the drugging phenomenon were made in different states including New York. The doctors who proved to be “high-prescribing” were dismissed. However, this did not produce any results.

Warehousing Children

Children who are already taken from their parents but not yet placed in foster homes are forced to live in shelters with horrible conditions. For example, they sleep in rooms with 12 beds in them. They are checked with metal detectors upon entry, and they are not allowed to go out or come back after midnight. Some of the insiders compare these shelters with prisons (Edelman and Petty).

Foster Care Drugging Impact on the Families in the US

Grown-Ups after Foster care

Mostly, children are taken to the foster care and become isolated from society at a very young age. That isolation plays a significant role in their lives after leaving foster care. There are even more issues that make former foster children unable to create families and cope with the society. Only New York state foster care, for example, discharges about 4 thousand children who have reached the age of eighteen every year.

Getting Back to Ordinary Life

After leaving foster care, children face the “outside life” which is not so happy as it may seem. They are abandoned and completely alone. After growing up in shelters, some children cannot find the way to cope with their new life (Breggin).

Mental Problems

After starting to live on their own, most of the former foster children experience mental illnesses. They are frustrated, depressed, and anxious. These kids usually become angry and feel persistent sadness. (Breggin).

Drug Addiction

In foster care children often become drug addicted. When they find themselves on the streets of the city, they continue to use drugs. They cannot help their addiction (Breggin).


Children become aggressive due to their mental condition. As a result, when they do not have money to buy drugs they try to take it by force or steal the money to buy it. A lot of these children end up in prisons (Zlotnick et al.).

Poor Social Skills

Children who overcome mental diseases and drug addiction are also not guaranteed to turn their life. They are not adapted to the life in society. After years of isolation in foster care, they do not know how to act properly (Edelman and Petty).


One of the side effects of psychotropics prescription is gaining extra weight. When it comes to relationships and attempts to create a family, extra weight becomes a significant issue (De Sa).

Teen Pregnancies

Former foster care children are more likely to have teen pregnancies. They are not ready to grow a baby. Pregnancies worsen their mental problems. (Breggin).

Absence of Knowledge and Parenting Skills

Former foster children are unable to properly care for a child due to lack of the knowledge and experience needed. They were raised in the shelters where the upbringing was rough (Edelman and Petty). They do not know how to raise a baby and prepare it for life in the modern society.

Child Abuse

Poor emotional health combined with the lack of parenting skills can cause aggression which leads to child abuse (Zlotnick et al.). It is very hard to stay calm even for people with stable mentality while caring a baby, not to mention depressed and irascible former foster care children.

Giving Birth Being Drug Addicted

Teen pregnancies may have serious consequences. First, drugs that mother is taking are very dangerous for the fetus. If a mother takes drugs while pregnant, the fetus feels their impact too. Using cocaine, for example, may cause heart attacks. Also, taking drugs during pregnancy increases the possibility of stillborn birth (Breggin).

Growing Children Being Drug Addicted

When a child is already born, he or she will grow with addicted parents. Among the possible dangers of drug addiction and alcoholism are violent behavior, verbal and sexual abuse, lack of attention to a child and his or her needs. It also may lead to leaving a newborn alone. (Breggin).

The Consequences

Children who grown up in dysfunctional families are most likely to have the same fate as their parents. They do not get a proper education, they have poor mental and physical health, they take drugs and very often end up in prisons.

Cycle of Abuse

It is critical to understand that the violence of people who abuse children might come from being abused in their childhood. Children follow the violent behavior of their parents. That is why when they grow up they treat their children the same.


To see how foster care children drugging affects adopting these children, and its overall impact on the families in the US, children drugging phenomena in California and New York–two states with high, unacceptable drug prescription should be considered. California has the highest rate of foster care drug spending, despite the measures taken. The measures of New York state have not proved to work either. Drugging worsens health, causing overweight, drug addiction, depression, suicidal behavior and aggression. After forcible drug prescription and living locked in cramped houses, children who leave foster care cannot turn their lives. These children also create families having poor social and parenting skills. This leads to child abuse. Upbringing in dysfunctional families worsens mental health and sometimes turns former foster children’s kids into sociopaths and child abusers.

Works Cited

Breggin, Peter. CCHR, Web.

Edelman, Susan, and Rachel Petty. . New York Post, 2016, Web.

De Sa, Karen. The Mercury News, 2014, Web.

Zlotnick, Cheryl, Tammy W. Tam, and Laurie A. Soman. “Life Course Outcomes on Mental and Physical Health: The Impact of Foster Care on Adulthood.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 102 no. 3, 2012: pp. 534-540.

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