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LA Courts to Mandate Tribal Sign Off in Psychotropic Drugs Prescribed to American Indian Children

June 3, 2013

Posted May 30, 2013 9:20 am EDT

LOS ANGELES – In a move that may prove to have national implications, a Los Angeles Superior Court subcommittee, Psychotropic Medication Committee, is in the process of mandating permission from American Indian tribes before American Indian children in the foster care system in Los Angeles County can be prescribed a psych medication.

Ron Andrade
Ron Andrade, Executive Director of the
Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission

Psychotropic medication is prescribed to individuals with emotional and behavioral problems. In recent years the drugs have become controversial because some experts maintain the drugs lead to depression and even suicide. "60 Minutes" did a segment on the ill effects on children of psychotropic medication in a segment that aired in February 2012.

The Psychotropic Medication Committee is led by Los Angeles Superior Court Michael Nash, who presented advanced a draft letter that serves as an example of a document that would be sent to a child in the foster care system who is a member of an American Indian tribe for tribal approval.

The draft letter obtained by Native News Network reads in part:

Dear Tribe

A physician is proposing to treat the above named child with psychotropic medication which is medication for emotional and/or behavior problems. The request is being reviewed by Juvenile Court.

If you do not agree for this child to take the recommended psychotropic medication and /or continue the psychotropic medication that the child is currently taking, you must complete the form JV-222, and file it with the court within two days of receiving this notice.

The actions by the Psychotropic Medication Committee are welcomed by Ron Andrade, executive director of the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission. Andrade's Los Angeles commission has been aggressively bringing awareness to the problems associated with psychotropic medication and the need for more tribal involvement before the drugs are prescribed to American Indian children in the foster care system.

“The Old Ones have always told us that it is our responsibility to protect and defend the lives of our children,”

commented Andrade to Native News Network.

“While this new policy may require new actions on the part of the tribal leadership and community leaders, we feel it is a responsibility that the leadership should eagerly accept. With the help of many Indians and non-Indians we can better protect our children wherever they live. We need to remember that we were Native people with responsibility for our people long before the European and American people came to Turtle Island.”

While there were questions on the timeline from those attending the subcommittee meeting, there was no opposition to the proposed new policy.

Judge Nash stated that he would try to have the policy finalized by the next subcommittee meeting.

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