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Children in foster care system are more likely to receive diagnoses of major mental illness and to be medicated with powerful medications such as antipsychotic drugs. Reasons for the increased risk of the actual mental illnesses and for the diagnoses of illness among children in foster care are reviewed. The reliabilities of various diagnoses are considered. The legitimacy of the rationale for early medications to prevent later disability is discussed. The very real hazards of medicating with antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, stimulants, mood stabilizers and antidepressants are reviewed. A discussion of advocacy efforts occurring around the United States on behalf of medicated children in the foster care system is presented. Finally, changes being instituted by the federal government through the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and the Government Accounting Office (GAO),following the hearing of December 1, 2011 convened by Senator Thomas Carper,are discussed.


This article was originally published as:

Littrell, J. (2012). Child Welfare: A vulnerable population. In A. Powell & J. Gray-Petersen, (Eds.). Child Welfare: Current Issues, Practices and Challenges. Hauppauge, NY:

Reprinted as:

Littrell, J. (2012). Children in foster care and excessive medications. International Journal of Medical and Biological Frontiers, 18(9/10), 715-749.

Open access fees have been paid by the author to the publisher to make the article available here.