Missouri foster kids overmedicated? Federal lawsuit argues yes

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KSPR) -- Many Missouri children in foster care are being put on too much medicine at a young age, that is according to the National Center for Youth Law.

The National Center for Youth Law, among others, is suing Missouri’s Department of Social Services in federal court. The group said many foster children are over-medicated when they should not be.

Whether children are playing or living life, they can be a lot to handle. But foster care experts said add being abused or neglected on top of that can cause a child to act differently. Experts said sometimes doctors put these children on medication.

"There is no one size fits all. I think they individually need to be assessed and then it be determined what's best for that child," said Cherish Kids Assistant Director, Marla Lucas.

Foster care experts and parents want children to be safe. But a lawsuit said kids in Missouri's foster care are being over-medicated.

"I'm not surprised by that at all," said mother Katie Craft.

"I have a child that has adjustment and anxiety issues and both of my children are very active. I think it would be pretty easy to get them on medication if that's what I wanted to do," Craft stated.

But she thinks it is important for Dylan and foster children to be given a chance to be a kid.

"I think medication should be a last resort," Craft stated.

At Burrell Behavioral Health, the Director of Outpatient Services said foster children may act out.

"Kids don't always have the words to tell you how I'm feeling about this. I'm scared. I'm frustrated. I'm worried. I'm mad and so their behavior will tell," stated Susan Henderson.

She said research shows abuse in the first five years of life could hurt children more than you know.

"In my normal child development, I'm supposed to be developing language at that time. But all those changes that would be occurring in the brain they're not occurring at the same rate because I am so focused on am I safe?" Henderson continued.

As all wait to see what happens in the lawsuit, Dylan will continue forging his own way in life as his mom looks after him and his brother Ethan.

KSPR News reached out to the Missouri Department of Social Services about this lawsuit in a statement they say "the Department of Social Services does not comment on pending litigation.”

If you want to foster kids, there are many great organizations out there.

Here is a link to Cherish Kids -> Click HERE.

You can read the lawsuit for yourself here -> Click HERE.