Dr. Phil says foster kids given meds to 'control and suppress' them

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Celebrity psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw has joined the hundred-plus advocacy groups asking Congress to help reduce overprescribing psychotropic drugs to children in foster care.

In a letter to top House leaders, advocacy groups including McGraw’s Dr. Phil Foundation urged lawmakers to fund $750 million initiative in the president’s new budget to improve use of evidence-based psychological treatment and reduce overprescribing of medication to foster children.

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“Prescription drugs can change and even save lives, but when it comes to these vulnerable children, these drugs are too often misused as ‘chemical straight jackets,’ ” McGraw said. “This is a haphazard attempt to simply control and suppress undesirable behavior, rather than treat, nurture and develop these treasured young people.”

The initiative would fund a five-year collaboration between the Administration for Children and Families and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to help states and tribal governments improve care for foster children.

The letter also cites a recent report by the Government Accountability Office that highlighted the ongoing problem of overprescribing psychotropic drugs to foster children, which raised the ire of congressional leaders last week.

McGraw is expected to make remarks on the issue during a Thursday luncheon on Capitol Hill, and then before the House Ways and Means Committee in the afternoon.