The Lakota People’s Law Project’s latest report “The New Boarding Schools: Racial Biases in the State of South Dakota Continue to Fuel Constant, Willful Violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act” takes a look at South Dakota’s systematic violation of ICWA.
Along with looking at the revolving door between high-level state officials and healthcare industry operatives, the report delves into the disturbing trend of an increase in pharmaceutical medications in the foster care system.
South Dakota foster care prescription rates skyrocketed between 1999 and 2009, increasing by an enormous 370 percent. The consequences of over-prescription are troubling–permanently altering the mental, physical, and emotional capacity of users, particularly underage children.
Many doctors are emerging saying that psychiatric drugs can create permanent brain damage in children and young adults.
Most of the medications being prescribed are generally reserved to treat serious mental illness of the variety that is thought to effect just 1 percent of the country’s population.
The probability that the percentage of children in foster care have serious mental illness that would warrant such large government spending on these advanced psychiatric medications is statistically impossible.
Instead, what is more likely, is that the DSS and other state and private foster care agencies, use these drugs as a method of subduing children who have behavioral problems related to the trauma concomitant with being ripped from their families.
These symptoms, along with cultural differences that are often misinterpreted by the South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS), contribute to faulty evaluations and unjust prescriptions.
The disturbing connection between state officials and members of the healthcare industry case suspicion on the profit motive as being a major reason these foster children receive these prescriptions. As more foster children face psychiatric treatment, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and private group homes such as Children’s Home Society of South Dakota stand to gain.
Current Governor Dennis Daugaard is the former CEO of Children’s Home Society.
Nationwide, The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is launching an investigation into the over-prescription of antipsychotics to children on Medicaid, and has already asked all fifty states to provide more oversight of these prescriptions. Medicaid more than doubled the amount it spent on antipsychotic drugs between 1999 and 2008, and now spends $3.8 billion on antipsychotics, more than any other class of drugs.
This alarming trend can be traced back to the The Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP), founded when former U.S. President George W. Bush was the governor of Texas. Under this program, which was created by pharmaceutical companies the correlation between mental illnesses and the drugs they are to be treated with has been standardized and incorporated into a flow chart that rather unsurprisingly often leads to medication as the solution to relatively benign and normal behavioral problems.
In court cases since, sales agents have admitted to aggressively marketing these drugs as a solution to mild childhood behavioral problems. Unfortunately, vulnerable children are currently falling prey to these questionable “standards” of medicine.
Often times, there is no one present to advocate for foster children and prevent them from falling prey to harmful prescription drugs. All medical decisions are made by the Department of Social Services, state courts, and the child’s doctor. If foster parents don’t follow through with prescriptions, they can be charged with medical neglect. People working in the best interest of these kids face a series of government obstacles.
While this problem is so large it even prompted an investigation by the San Jose Mercury News and our friend Karen Da Sa, The Lakota People’s Law Project believes it adversely affects Native children in foster care because they are often the most marginalized and are subjected to placement in state foster care at incommensurate rates.
LPLP works to support Natives in our quest to found tribe operated social service programs.
We have secured two large federal grants for Native tribes in South Dakota to begin establishing their own child and family services and we are in the process of securing five more.
Please help us in our quest to end the illegal seizures of Lakota children from their families by donating here. We need all the help we can get.
We encourage you to read the rest of this new report to learn more about corruption in South Dakota as well as our mission to end it.