Disability Rights Maryland, the ACLU of Maryland, Children’s Rights, and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP filed a lawsuit against the Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) and Social Services Administration (SSA) on behalf of minor children in the State’s foster care system who are given one or more psychotropic medications. The lawsuit covers all jurisdictions except Baltimore City, which is covered through separate ongoing litigation involving children in foster care.
The lawsuit claims that for over a decade Maryland’s DHS and SSA have failed to exercise adequate oversight of children in foster care who are given potentially dangerous psychotropic drugs.
As many as 34% of children in Maryland’s family regulation system are given psychotropic drugs, and more than half of those children are prescribed multiple drugs at the same time. Nearly 75% of these children who are taking psychotropic drugs do not have a psychiatric diagnosis. Black children, disproportionately represented in Maryland’s foster care system, are at greater risk of being subjected to dangerous prescribing practices in many counties.
The complaint outlines dangerous failures on the part of SSA and DHS to serve as effective custodians for the children in their care, including failing to compile and maintain adequate medical and mental health records, failing to implement an adequate informed consent process, and failing to operate an adequate secondary review system to conduct second opinion evaluations when necessary.
Scott T. Schutte, Stephanie Schuster, Elise M. Attridge, and Laura M. Gronauer of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP; Samantha M. Bartosz, Stephen Dixon, Stephanie Persson, Claire R. Glasspiegel, and Kathleen B. Simon of Children’s Rights; Luciene Parsley, Leslie Margolis, and Megan Berger of Disability Rights Maryland; Deborah A. Jeon, David Rocah, and Tierney Peprah of ACLU of Maryland.