Judge Considers Holding State in Contempt a Third Time Over Foster Care Conditions

In a story for The Imprint, Karen Brooks Harper writes about continuing judicial conflict over the failure of Texas authorities to regulate foster care, including the supervision of psychotropic drugs: 

“Removed from her home at age 11, Juarez — who is now 4-foot-8 and barely over 100 pounds at 18 — said she was frequently beat up and threatened by other kids, and once had an iPod taken away by facility workers after she showed them that an adult male staffer was sending her sexually suggestive text messages.

Juarez testified through tears before U.S. District Judge Janis Jack on Monday how she could never found allies in Texas foster care, a system that was there to protect her.

‘They would tell us when we [cry or] misbehave that we were there because our family didn’t want us, or that it was because we were bad kids and nobody wants bad kids,’ Juarez told Jack.

Jack is being asked to decide whether the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which manages the foster care system, should be held in contempt of court orders for the third time since a  2011 lawsuit was filed about foster care conditions. . . . 

This week’s hearing will address several areas of concern.

Among them is the monitoring and regulation of psychotropic medications — antidepressants, anti-psychotics, stimulants and mood stabilizers. Court monitors said they could not find evidence that the state was following its own precautions for making sure these children were not being overmedicated.

Juarez testified that when she was a foster child at age 17, she was taking eight different medications every single day — most of them psychotropic drugs — that made her too sleepy and sick to go to school.

When she would tell her doctors and caseworkers that the meds were debilitating, ‘they would just say I needed them,’ she said.”

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