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A tentative settlement in a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Social Services would give needed protections to Missouri’s foster children.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that a federal judge gave preliminary approval to a settlement agreement for a lawsuit alleging Missouri over-medicated children in foster care with psychotropic drugs.

The department would make widespread change in how it oversees prescriptions given to children it cares for, The AP reported, including staff training and regular check-ups for children on psychotropic medications.

The AP said children’s rights groups filed the class-action lawsuit, claiming psychotropic drugs are often prescribed as “chemical straight-jackets” for foster care children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or conduct disorder even, though there are few to no Food and Drug Administration-approved uses for the drugs among children. The plaintiffs’ attorneys said there’s little research on how the drugs impact children’s brains, and possible side effects include disorders that cause twitching, Type 2 diabetes, psychosis and suicidal thoughts.

Among other things in the proposed settlement, children on psychotropic medications would be checked on by a doctor at least every three months. Cases of children ages 4 or under on antipsychotic medicine would automatically be reviewed, as would those 5 and older who take multiple psychotropic or antipsychotic drugs for more than 90 days at a time, the AP reported.

These requirements would give needed oversight to the process, we believe.

Foster children can have added challenges to overcome in their lives, and sometimes they need our help in various ways. But we need to ensure that if psychotropic drugs are involved, protections exist to ensure that they are truly in the children’s best interest.

Central Missouri Newspapers

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