Delta Airlines got involved in my custody battles I lost two children
Dear Mr. Anderson:Over the years I have continued to seek justice with Delta Airlines. Your company became involved with my custodial battles in Hawaii and Montana in 1989-1991. Early Out Flight Attendants were class action certified in the Ninth Federal District Court in San Francisco, California. David Rosenfeld, attorney of record for the flight attendants had lied to me that he would address reinstatement of flight attendant careers. Lynda Kerwin, current Delta flight attendant, and her spouse Brad Kerwin submitted defaming letters to Hawaii Court Services. Lynda claimed supervisory status and current relations with me. I had not had anything to do with her for nine years. That information was then passed to Yellowstone County Court Services in Montana. *** Mogenson, station manager for Delta at the Billings Airport was given copies of this material through Yellowstone County Court Services. He then communicated with Denny Schmit, vice president of inflight services. Three false allegations were levied against me by Delta Airlines in Billings, during a period when I had just given birth and was being attacked in my home by my abusive husband. My children, and now my grandchildren have suffered terribly over these false allegations. In Utah, the people in power and authority, did everything they could to undermine my efforts to regain custody of my children and hold Delta Airlines responsible and accountable for their actions. Volumns of information was sent by myself to Delta Airlines attempting to request help in getting my children returned to my custody. I also requested reinstatement, because I needed my job to support myself and my children. My phone number is 801-440-6007.
Deborah Lynne Connor
Mother's quest for lost infant June 15, 2001 By Vicki Pierce Like a lost soul on an endless voyage, Deborah Connor has never given up fighting to regain custody of her 11-year-old son, Ryan Cook. When Deborah Connor lost custody of her 3-month-old, breast-feeding, infant son, on April 20, 1990, to Mark Cook, a batterer, in Billings, Montana, she couldn't believe that her right to due process was stolen in a court of law. Nor could she have imagined it would take over a decade to right the wrongs of a justice system selling babies to abusers. With two ex-husbands and her employer conspiring against her, she didn't stand a chance and also temporarily lost custody of a daughter from a previous marriage. After sending her daughter for a summer visitation with her father in Honolulu, Hawaii, Deborah's ex-husband, Dr. Don Satterlee, who had a long history of initiating litigation against her and falsely accusing her over many issues, seized custody of her daughter Amber. Deborah had been the primary breadwinner and caretaker of Amber during her six-year marriage to Satterlee while he pursued surfing and a doctorate degree at the University of Hawaii. After the birth of their daughter in 1979, Deborah became frustrated with Satterlee's lackadaisical lifestyle and longed to enter a graduate program as well. Her career as a flight attendant and mom, compounded with her husband's slacker attitude, left little time for education and seriously interfered with work. So she left him and contrary to Satterlee's alienation allegations, Deborah says she always fostered a positive image of Satterlee to her daughter by sending her to see her father, frequently using her own airline passes. Unaware that his first wife had divorced him because of his abuse, seven years after her divorce, she married Mark Cook. After Deborah became pregnant, three months into her pregnancy, Cook started beating her. She called the police and months later she was admitted to the Gateway House at the Y.W.C.A. Battered Women's Shelter in Billings, Montana on February 10, 1990. Colleen O'Connor, a caseworker at the shelter testified that Deborah came in dazed, bleeding heavily, with a one-month-old baby in her arms. Before she checked into the shelter Deborah called in crisis stating that Mark was abusive and she couldn't take it anymore, he kept taking the phone away from her and hanging up forcing her to run away to a neighbor's home. She also stated that Mark had been verbally and emotionally abusive; that he spit in her water glass and pretended to urinate in her apple juice; that he kept telling her that she's crazy and he had a lot of psychologists to help him get custody of the baby. When she filed for divorce based on Cook's history of battering and drug and alcohol abuse, the nightmare began. They call it white collar or secondary battering. After a woman has been battered, she looks crazy and the spouse looks sane, in control and is able to logically defend himself. Victims of domestic violence can appear emotional in court and rarely get fair hearings or trials. The string of events occurring in Hawaii Family Court Services and Yellowstone County Family Court Services could only be described as extremely biased against mothers and damaging to children. A Yellowstone County court services caseworker, promising to help her regain custody of her daughter, sent her to the Rimrock Foundation. At the facility Deborah was told she was being treated for codependency. Instead they gave her a psychiatric label in stealth and sent that information to Hawaii and Mark Cook's psychologist. [Years after Deborah's case, in 1999, they were licensed and even have a "court school."] Her husband, Mark Cook, was to be treated for chemical dependency and battering, which is now their specialty, but wasn't at that time. Instead, seven months pregnant, Deborah was labeled "bi-polar" by a non-credentialed boilermaker from Colstrip, Montana and not told of the diagnosis. Yet they told Mark, whom with a psychologist friend and a Delta Airline employee from Hawaii convinced Rimrock that she should lose custody of her children. To build a case of parental alienation syndrome, they continually applied pressure to compel her to state that her father had molested her, when in fact, no such thing had ever occurred. Neither the "boiler maker" posing as mental health professional nor the Yellowstone County caseworker are presently licensed to practice in the State of Montana. The bi-polar diagnosis placed her in an indefensible position, when shortly after the birth of her son; she was falsely accused of several actions. Mark Cook was physically and sexually abusing me within two weeks after an emergency caesarean section. No one in law enforcement would assist her because Mark reported that she had severe psychiatric problems and was being treated by the Rimrock Foundation. There were two eyewitnesses to the domestic violence, who are professionals and thus expert witnesses. One was a police chaplain who came to her home at the behest of the battered woman's shelter. The other was the counselor who checked her into the shelter, bleeding and holding her one-month-old infant. On April 20, 19990, Mark enticed a Delta Airlines employee and a friend to lie about an incident at Billings Logan Airport. As she was engaged in civil litigation with Delta in the Ninth Federal District Court involving a group of 2,600 employees and was encouraging many former flight attendants to fight for reinstatement of their jobs, Delta officials were opposed. They used a falsely reported incident and the bi-polar diagnosis to initially suspend her lifetime airline passes and retirement benefits guaranteed by Western Airlines "early out" agreement. Later they falsely reported another incident in-flight, which never occurred and terminated her lifetime benefits. These actions were perpetrated without due process. The false charge on April 20, 1990, was dropped as unsubstantiated by the Billings City Attorney, now District Court Judge Russell Fagg, who has been very supportive over the years and was surprised that her divorce attorney did not investigate the fact that the charges were dropped. Judge William Spear gave custody of her nursing infant to Mark Cook based on those false allegations. In the Pacific Reporter, she was publicly labeled as bi-polar, or mixed personality disorder, which was derived by future mental health professionals because of the false reports from the Rimrock Foundation that she had been sexually molested. Four years later, with the help of the Pacer County, California District Attorney's office, Deborah regained custody of her daughter who had become unstable and angry believing that her mother had deserted her. Together they went to Salt Lake City, Utah where Mark Cook had relocated with her then 2-year-old son, Ryan. The mental health professionals in Billings who testified in her behalf warned the court in Montana that Deborah's son was experiencing manifestations of an attachment disorder and to restore custody to her. These warnings were ignored and according to sources the child has serious behavioral problems. Dr. Carol Gage, Ph.D., the director of one of the access visitations programs in Salt Lake City, worked with Judith Romney Wolbach, the guardian ad litem, a DCFC caseworker, Geny Mowery, Douglas Goldsmith, Executive Director of The Children's Center and others to rubber-stamp the Montana court findings and allegations of Wolbach, that Ryan was a normal, healthy, happy baby thriving without his mother. After evidence was presented to the court that such was not the case, Wolbach recanted, creating a smokescreen of false allegations and blamed Deborah, who remember, literally had her 3-month-old son torn from her breast-feeding arms. According to Wolbach, the child now suffers from a mental illness inherited from his mother. Geny Mowery of DCFS and Dr. Goldsmith planted mental health information that gave rise to credibility of the false allegations long before it was alleged. Authorities rip a baby from his mother's arms, deny contact for years, hand the child over to a battering alcoholic and Goldsmith's reasons, "Ryan Cook is a five-year-old child who has experienced a great deal of stress involving the early absence of his mother which has been compounded by the inability of Ms. Connor to maintain contact with him on a regular basis. At the present time, Ryan appears to be feeling a lot of anger toward his mother and he has distanced himself from her emotionally. However, the parent-child conflict does not adequately explain Ryan's explosive temper outbursts, which appear consistent and stable, across a number of environments. He appears to exhibit qualities of an intermittent explosive disorder, as his rages tend to be unprovoked and severe; however, these rages may also be symptomatic of early signs of a bipolar disorder. While environmental situations might aggravate his condition, environmental stressors did not likely create it. Rather, Ryan’s volatile behavior is likely genetically based....there's a lot of concern that boys like Ryan, who demonstrate these kinds of explosive ranges may be exactly as I said, showing early signs of bipolar disorder." Yet a forensic psychologist, Marc Einhorn, Psy.D., testified that intermittent explosive disorders, according to the DSM-IV can not be diagnosed in anyone prior to adolescence. The judge would have to be a *** not to see through this. Then Goldsmith went into a tirade because Deborah complained about his dubious diagnosis, "She also denied making any threats to anybody at the Administrative Offices of the Court, was very angry, saying I misdiagnosed her child and my secretaries were very distressed with these phone calls and felt that they were very clearly harassing in nature." http://www.usoe.k12.ut.us/sars/FACT/KIDS COUNT/about utah children.pdf Douglas Goldsmith, Ph.D./Exec Dir., The Children's Center: "They say, he's two years old, what's he going to know? He's not going to think anything. But they are watching and they are picking up because they are modeling. Even at the age of one, children start to model what we do." http://courtlink.utcourts.gov/opinions/mds/connor.htm Parenting tightrope, In blended families, discipline poses big test for stepparents, Thursday, April 08, 1999, By Gib Twyman, Desert News staff writer, "One of the most important things to remember is that there is a lot of work to do before you can even focus on your pattern of discipline," said Douglas Goldsmith, director of The Children's Center of Salt Lake City and Kearns, which specializes in parent consultation and parenting classes, among other psychological training and therapy. "A lot of the time there's this sense of urgency to become a family. It normally takes over a year before a blended family can be begin to build the relationship base necessary to create the special bonds we call family. "Both the biological parent and stepparent need to be patient. It's hard work being a blended family." Goldsmith also banged the communication drum heavily. "One of the problems that can crop up is competition between the new parents. The biological parent can feel protective. It may take a long time for that parent to allow the other to parent. You can have a situation where one parent has had to do all the disciplining. Now he or she may feel the other one may be too strong or inappropriate in discipline. "Or the biological parent may feel the stepparent is criticizing his or her parenting — 'how can I share parenting with you when you don't think I'm doing it right?' " University of Utah, Approved Counselors Douglas Goldsmith & Valerie Hale Utah Psychological Association UPA Leadership, Douglas Goldsmith, Education Committee, Member-At-Large, Ethics Chair & Valerie Hale, custodywar.com, Advocacy Committee, Public Education Coordinator, Member-At-Large Douglas F. Goldsmith, Ph.D., Director, Community Service Providing Organization, The Children's Center, STATE of UTAH, Council and Steering Committee for Families, Agencies & Communities Together (FACT) 1999-2000 Department of Educational Pyschology, University of Utah Valerie Hale, on parental alienation, "I think it's a vicious, horrible thing to do to a child, because it sets up a giant loyalty conflict in which children have to literally decide which parent they can love. And also they have to hide their feelings; sometimes they have to just decide to pitch in with one or the other, and the guilt is amazing. In my clinical psychology practice I see it backfiring, as children get older. So when they realize that one parent has set up a campaign of denigration and brainwashing against the other and that they bought into it - when they realize that at 16, 17, 18 or older - often times they refuse to have contact with the parent who did the brainwashing in the first place. And all of that is not what we want. We want healthy happy relationships with both parents." [Yet Ryan Cook has had no contact, no joint custody or even visitation with his mother over a false allegation for the past six years in Utah.] Elizabeth Hickey is the creator and director of Utah's first-in-the-nation mandatory parenting education program for separating parents. Elizabeth Hickey is national director of parenting education for the Children's Rights Council. [CRC whose rallying cry is The judges in Utah mandate parenting education for separating parents in Utah because they find it effective in reducing tension between parents, encouraging parental satisfaction and keeping parents out of courts. Connecticut and other states are jumping on the bandwagon and mandating workshops for separating parents. Delta sends pilots for testing at father's rights AAML affiliated psychological firm Peachtree Psychological Associates. http://www.geocities.com/nafcj/PeachtreePsych.htm http://www.geocities.com/nafcj/ShinglersList.htm http://www.geocities.com/nafcj/DumbDeltaDad.htm http://www.utahgift.org/ Deborah Connor, Salt Lake City, UT 801/835-4483
My name is Deborah Connor. My daughter Amber has three young children; Braidon, age 5 years, Tyler, age 3 years, and Beca, age 2 yrs. Braidon for the last two years has been living with his paternal grandparents. He is a highly functioning autistic child. The two youngest are currently in foster care. My daughter, Amber, their mother, age 28, just came back to live with me, here in Utah. Your whole CPS department in this Fort Worth & Arlington area, is out of control, as is CPS in most states. I was a battered wife in two marriages, but left immediately. I have one child from each marriage. My daughter had been scarred by her father taking me to court for 18 years. He attended the Air Force Academy, played football, and then transferred to the University of Hawaii. He did not wish to go into the airforce with the unpopular Viet Nam war waging. He went on to get a doctorate, after the birth of Amber. He was irresponsible with regard to our little family, so I divorced him. I lost custody of Amber when she was 9 yrs old, due to court corruption, for four years. In my second marriage, Amber and I were abused, and we left immediately. This set the stage for my losing custody of my two children. I know about CPS corruption because in cases of domestic violence they are called into family court frequently. Often, they advocate for the batterer. This is just a national fact. In my case, Delta Airlines got involved giving false information to the courts in Hawaii and Montana. I lost custody of two children to two abusive men, at the same time. The Hawaii court sent the false information submitted by Lynda Kerwin, claiming to be a Delta Airlines supervisor, to the Montana court. The station manager at the Billings Logan Airport, *** Mogensen, then falsified reports on me in Montana. These reports were used to remove my three month old nursing infant from me and cancel my lifetime airline benefits that I bargained my airline career for. I was fighting to get my job back as a flight attendant in a class action lawsuit filed in San Francisco California. I was the ringleader for "early out" flight attendants who were enticed into fraudulent "early out" retirements.
Two years ago, little Beca was born prematurely. Testing was positive for thc in the infant's miconium... slight traces. I am not mitigating the positive testing; I don't like even cigarette smoking during pregnancy, or around children at all period. Having worked as a flight attendant for twelve years, I know the effects of secondary smoke. Amber's two little boy toddlers were immediately removed to be with their respective paternal grandparents. I was NEVER contacted for an ICPC investigation to keep the two toddlers together. I do understand that I do not live in Texas. However, both of these male partners had emotionally and physically abused my daughter. As I see it, these children were awarded temporary custody to the parents of perpetrators; perpetrating domestic violence. Joyce Coleman, the CPS caseworker just blew me off when I related this to her. My daughter was in a motel, homeless, at the time of Beca's birth. Just weeks before, she had contacted me and related her male partner, Jason Hughes, was on hard core drugs, and physically abusing her. I arranged for her to go to the airport to get on a flight home, standby, on a buddy pass provided to her by a friend. Instead this catastrophe followed.
I believe according to the Child Welfare and Adaption Act, that an ICPC investigation should have been performed two years ago on me, the maternal grandmother. Two years ago, Amber left the hospital with no place to live, and no transportation to get to the hospital to spend time with her little preemie. Neither paternal grandparents assisted her at all. If one would pull a background check on Duston Whitaker and Jason Hughes, they would be horrified that their parents were awarded the children. Kim and Art Chance, Dustin's parents, moved four hours from Arlington right away. This I believe was illegal while they had temporary custody of Braidon. Howard and Becky Hughes treated Amber very badly, while they knew about their son's violent background and extensive hard core drug usage. Please do a background check on these young men!!!
Amber was left with no legitimate services, just CPS's bogus treatment plans. She ultimately gave up Braidon to Kim Chance, because she felt unworthy as she could not even get the time to go and visit with him, as he lived four hours away. She also had unreliable transportation for a long time. Joyce Colman and the other case workers refused to run a background check on Kim Chance, and why her son Duston Whitaker had been in and out of jail, and finally spent time in prison!!!!!!!
Meanwhile, Jason Hughes parents have money, and ultimately hired an attorney for Jason and provided Jason with lodging. Jason, the perpetrator, eventually got custody of Tyler and Beca. Amber was treated by CPS and Jason's family, as the only party with all the problems. CPS was nasty to me, because I had lost custody of my two children to two abusive men. They never looked at the fact that the District Attorney of Placer County, California, helped me to get custody of Amber back. This was not even the job of the District Attorney. At this time, they even refused to investigate my background, as I requested.
Amber eventually moved back in with Jason and her two younger children. Jason continued to used hard core drugs and physically abuse Amber. She has rarely gone to visit Braidon, which just grieves me. My contacts with Amber usually came when things were not going well. I don't make much money, but I would send Amber what I could. Last Spring she and her two youngest children moved in with a woman in Fort Worth. Apparently, there was a falling out, so I sent Amber $1,000.00 to come home and live with me. When Jason found out, he took the two children, while Amber went to pay the motel bill, and went to live at this same woman's home. Amber was not allowed to see the children, except when Jason determined she could, so she would not take the children to Utah. Finally, I phoned a number Amber had called me from and spoke with a woman named Chris Dawson. Chris is an army officer's widow, and a successful business woman in her own right. She let me know Amber had lived with her after the birth of Beca. Chris even helped Amber finance a car. Chris let me know how serious Jason's alcohol and drug problem was. Chris felt Amber's primary problem was battered women's syndrome.
Jason continued to hold the two younger children hostage; Amber was not functioning normally, and not coming home at night, so Chris made her move. Amber was not able to get out and get a job and had many problems from being irresponsible with finances. She had one DUI which she was fighting with the help of a lawyer because her alcohol level was not high enough. She ended up taking the plea because her living situation was unstable. She had former moving violation tickets that she never paid because she never had the money to pay them. Amber has often worked two jobs and has given the money to Jason. The pattern over the past four years has been... Amber works two jobs, Jason starts out working on a new job.... Jason then gets strung out on drugs...Amber gets panicky then calls me, I send money, they lose their residence, Amber becomes homeless, and Jason's mother provides a new residence for only Jason. This Huges family and Chance family have abused my daughter as well as CPS, and I have grown sick and tired of it. All of us believe that the $1,000.00 I sent to Amber last Spring went to Jason, when he took the children and fled to the lady's house in Fort Worth. $1,000.00 for me is a lot more than it would be for the Hughes family, as they are quite wealthy.
I finally called CPS. They only took the children about one month AFTER I called them. Amber was at Jason's when CPS came for the children, but this was a rare time when Jason allowed her to visit. Why would CPS not allow Amber to bring the children home to her mother's home, where there is stability. If an ICPC investigation was necessary, it should have been performed TWO years ago. Chris and I pleaded for Amber to go to the Battered Women's Shelter to get help at that time. She did so only because she was homeless. Within a few days I got a message from Amber that she was assaulted, knocked out, and raped. She called from Jon Petersmith hospital. She claimed it was a stranger. She had been visiting Jason at his motel that his mother provided.
Jason's mother helped the two of them this time, to get into a place. Jason's father wants nothing to do with Jason or his children. Meanwhile CPS's Joyce Coleman and Paula Reitz called me up and asked me if I was coming to the Hearing. They led me to believe that Jason was the perpetrator who knocked Amber out, and beat her up, while raping her . I gave Joyce Coleman a piece of my mind that she had never listened to me regarding Jason abusing hard core drugs and abusing Amber. I also let her know she had no business giving those children back to Jason. I was angry that Jason and Amber were not required to get in-patient treatment for chemical dependency and domestic violence. I told them I would be there for the hearing and wanted to take conservator ship of the children. Paula Reitz told me Amber was inebriated when she was raped. With all the information CPS had, their treatment plan fell short, and they knew it.
I spent money I had to borrow, to fly to Texas. What happened in that court room was reprehensible. I had spoken to Cliff Bronson the prosecuter on the phone. He knew I would be there. I spoke with the guardian ad litem and let her know I could take the children. When it came up in the courtroom "who was there to take the children?", four attorneys who knew I was there, said nothing. I was afraid if I spoke out, I would have been found in contempt, as I was not represented by counsel. Nothing is even in the court record that reflects I was there. Why did Joyce Coleman and Paula Reitz call me to fly down for the Hearing??? To my knowledge an ICPC investigation has still not been started. The paternal grandparents were never investigated!!! Although I am not that familiar with Juvenile Court, I am not unfamiliar with courtroom procedures. There is a great deal of subterfuge in this case. Amber's attorney got Amber on the stand and alledged that Amber was abused as a child and spent time in Foster Care; this never happened. Later Paula Reitz told me they had no such information. Amber denied it, because it was not true. Amber still states that CPS told her they have this information, and gave it to her attorney. I believe Amber. Cliff Bronson put skewed evidence into record that Amber had never been raped. He accomplished this by submitting a partial hospital record. The complaint from CPS was also skewed that Amber had done Heroine and was passed out in the company of her children. This information was reported on Jason, not Amber. Had these reports placed into evidence been correct, surly a court ordered inpatient treatment program would have been in order. Instead, CPS kept the children in Foster Care, and put Amber and Jason on a bogus treatment program that was doomed to failure from the beginning, and any professional person should have realized this.
Becky Peretta, from CPS, had supposedly done an investigation for Linda Wright, the regional director, on me. I gave them permission to speak with Dr. Marcus Einhorn PsyD., and Reverend James West MDiv, two professionals familiar with my case in Montana, when I lost custody of my son. The corruption was unbelievable; Delta Airlines had handed false information on me to the family courts in Montana and Hawaii. That is the major reason I lost custody of my children. My children have suffered emotionally from being raised by abusive men!!! Becky Peretta was ever so polite to me and told me my story had checked out. Then they pulled shenanigans in the court room.
As could be expected, Jason beat Amber again, this time it was outside their apartment with many witnesses, they lost their residence, Jason's mother got Jason a place, and Amber was homeless again. Exhausted, Amber finally came home to Utah. I have taken her to work with Dr. Willford Higashi Phd. Dr Higashi was the director of the mental health program for health & human services in Colorado for three years, and in Utah for twelve years. He is very familiar with my background, as he helped me to regain visitation rights with my son that were circumvented owing to court corruption, assisted by false information from Delta Airlines. He will be working with my son Ryan as well. I welcome you to call any of the mental health professionals I have worked with, as well as Rev. West.
I am asking for a full investigation into this case as to why Amber and Jason have never been given affective assistance, and why CPS dares to treat me as they have, when I am the grandmother. I would like to take conservatorship of my three grandchildren and have them sent here to Utah to live with me. There is no excuse that Braidon has been separated from his siblings. When all of us are dead, who will be there for Braidon???
What unprofessional individuals you have working for CPS in Arlington & Fort Worth Texas. I just ran up a $600.00 cell phone bill working to get Amber back here, and to find how to report these unprofessional and dangerous people. I have contacted state senator Kim Brimer's aid, April Mitchell, and Congressman Burgess's aid, Janice Zimmerman. I am requesting a formal investigation by the "Administration of Children & Families" for abuse of federal law for not complying with the Child Welfare & Adaption Act. CPS did not comply with "preventing the removal" in several areas. They still have not done the ICPC investigation on me. They have never provided me with a copy of the Texas format of The Child Welfare and Adoption Act requirements, nor have they sent me the formal complaint form I requested. They are a rogue agency out of control. They have slandered me, and worked with the mothers' of young men who have continually abused my daughter, and god forbid my grandchildren. Statistics have shown that most men who will beat their significant others will also beat their children. My three year old grandson was placed on Zyprexa, Depakote, and Guansasine!!! Zyprexa has been the subject of multi million dollar law suites against Eli Lilly for the deaths of children. My home phone is 801-733-0700. My cell phone is currently shut off.
Deborah Lynne Connor
Dr. Marcus Einhorn PsyD. (678)366-9055Rev. James West MDiv (660)335-0064Dr. Willford Higashi (801)277-8025States wrestle with medicating foster kidsCritics worry psychiatric drugs flow too freely to forgotten children
Updated: 2:43 p.m. MT March 13, 2007NEW YORK - Coast to coast, states are wrestling with how best to treat the legions of emotionally troubled foster children in their care. Critics contend that powerful psychiatric drugs are overused and say poor record-keeping masks the scope of the problem.Nationwide, there are more than 500,000 children in foster care at any one time, and more than half have mental illness or serious behavioral problems, according to the Child Welfare League of America.¡°The child welfare system wan¡¯t prepared for the deluge of kids that have mental health problems,¡± said Dr. Chris Bellonci, a child psychiatrist in Needham, Mass. ¡°By default, it¡¯s become a mental health delivery system, and it¡¯s ill-equipped to do that.¡±Story continues below ¡ý --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Some states have taken broad action ¡ª often in response to overdose tragedies, lawsuits or damning investigations. California requires court review of any psychotropic drug prescription for a foster child; Illinois has designated a prominent child psychiatrist to oversee such reviews.In other states, however, experts say the issue is not being adequately addressed and basic data is lacking that would show the extent of medication usage.¡°It¡¯s a problem that¡¯s really ugly, and growing under a rock, and no one wants to turn the rock over,¡± said Dr. Michael Naylor, the psychiatrist in charge of Illinois¡¯ review program, who recently struggled to get responses from other states for a paper he is writing on the topic.Pacifying troubled kidsSome parents and advocacy groups say child welfare authorities routinely resort to drugs to pacify foster children without fully considering non-medication options. Among the aggrieved parents is Sheri McMahon of Fargo, N.D., whose son *** was in foster care for 28 months from 2001 to 2003 because of an inspector¡¯s ruling that their home was substandard.McMahon said ***, now 17, had been diagnosed with multiple disorders and was taking an antidepressant when he entered foster care. But she said that in a residential foster-care facility, he was placed on five psychotropic medications simultaneously ¡ª becoming sleepy and overweight and developing breathing difficulties.¡°When he came back home, his pediatrician and psychiatrist expressed concern about the number and doses of medications,¡± McMahon said. ¡°It took many months to get them down to a level where he had a chance of attending school regularly.¡±Child psychiatrists say a shortage of funds and resources complicate the already daunting task of effectively diagnosing and treating mental illness in foster children. One problem, Bellonci said, is a nationwide shortage of child psychiatrists, often leaving pediatricians to handle complex behavioral problems.Bellonci helped Tennessee¡¯s Department of Children¡¯s Services ¡ª the target of a sweeping lawsuit ¡ª overhaul its procedures for psychotropic drugs after an investigation found that 25 percent of foster children were taking them, often without legal consent. Tennessee¡¯s policies are now considered among the best, encouraging expert reviews of prescriptions and urging prescribing doctors to consult with the youth, caseworkers and the biological and foster parents before deciding on medication.The issue is very much alive in several other states. Among them:In Florida, child welfare officials will be reporting to the legislature within weeks on the effects of a 2005 bill that tightened rules on when foster children can be given psychotropic drugs. The law requires prior consent of a foster child¡¯s parents or a court order before such drugs can be used. The bill¡¯s approval followed a report concluding that mood-altering drugs were being prescribed to 25 percent of Florida¡¯s foster children. In Texas, outgoing state comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn issued a stinging report in December on psychiatric treatment of foster children, including the use of medication. ¡°The picture is bleak, and rooted in profound human suffering,¡± said the report, which recommended hiring a full-time medical director for foster children and requiring prior approval for certain prescriptions. Some activists say the recommendations, 48 in all, are unlikely to be embraced by the task force studying them; state health officials say use of psychotropic drugs for foster children is already declining because of guidelines adopted in 2005. In California, Assemblywoman Noreen Evans introduced a bill last month that would require the state to collect the necessary data to show whether foster children are being overmedicated. ¡°Many foster youth have told me that they are given pills instead of counseling,¡± Evans said. ¡°The state doesn¡¯t track who receives prescriptions and why. We need to do that in order to prevent abuses.¡±Oversight and data collection is complicated in California because the medication regulations are handled by county courts. Dr. George Fouras, a psychiatrist hired to review foster-care prescriptions for San Francisco County, said the overwhelming majority of medication decisions are proper, and he has rejected only four out of many hundreds. But he said child-welfare systems nationwide are overloaded, sometimes tempting authorities to look for quick fixes instead of ensuring detailed mental-health evaluations.In New York City, the public advocate ¡ª who serves in a watchdog role ¡ª asked child welfare officials three years ago for data on the use of psychotropic drugs in the foster care system. The data is still not available, although Assistant Commissioner Angel Mendoza of the city¡¯s Administration for Children¡¯s Services said a database should be ready later this year. Activists Take on Eli Lilly Over Off-Label Sale of Zyprexaby Evelyn PringleOn February 23, 2007, a new grass roots advocacy group issued a press release to rally support for attorney, Jim Gottstein, in his legal battle with Eli Lilly over his role in providing secret company documents obtained in litigation to the media to alert the public about the health risks associated with Zyprexa that were kept hidden since the mid-90s.In turning the document over to the press, Mr. Gottstein's goal was also to alert the public about Lilly's illegal off-label marketing schemes aimed at getting doctors to prescribe Zyprexa, a drug FDA approved only for adult patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, to patients of all ages for uses that were not approved as safe and effective.Although a doctor may prescribe a drug for an unapproved use, it is illegal for Lilly to promote Zyprexa for an off-label use. The illegal marketing in this case includes influencing doctors to prescribe the drug to millions of consumers for conditions not listed on the label, prescribing Zyprexa in combination with other drugs or for a longer duration than recommended, and prescribing a drug for children that was only approved for adults.Activists say most consumers are not even aware that it is legal for a doctor to prescribe a drug for an off-label use and take for granted that a prescribed drug picked up at a pharmacy is approved to treat their condition and their children.
Rebecca RileyDrugging ChildrenThe recent overdose death of 4-year-old, Rebecca Riley, in Massachusetts, demonstrates the dire need to educate the public about the practice of prescribing drugs for unapproved uses and the dangers of prescribing drugs like Zyprexa to children.At 2-and-a-half-years-old, Rebecca was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder and was prescribed Zyprexa's atypical cousin, Seroquel, along with Clonidine, an adult high blood pressure drug, and Depakote, a drug approved to treat adults with epilepsy. None of these drugs were approved for children and they were prescribed in a combination that has never been tested even with adults.From age 2 on, Rebecca remained on this daily drug off-label concoction until she was found dead on the floor in her parent's home on December 13, 2006. The autopsy report stated that she died of the "combined effects" of the drugs and that her lungs and heart were damaged by "prolonged abuse of these prescription drugs, rather than one incident."
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