Summary

This project set out to determine the prevalence and impact of psychotropic drugs as a means of managing children and youth living under government care. It began by engaging 27 systems youth between the ages of 18 and 28 in interview sessions, and assessed when and how pharmaceuticals and chemical restraints had first been applied by caregivers in foster homes or group care situations in order to control emotional or other difficult behaviours. The Youth in Care Network recognized that Canadian youth living in “the system” – meaning foster care, group homes, psychiatric and corrections institutions – are assigned a variety of disorders and medicated in order to manage their emotions and behaviours. They further identified that the situations under which children and youth are medicated frequently involve coercion and violence, and do not require the consent of the child or youth in question. The project resulted in a report that identifies current research in the field, and resulted in a subsequent major research project and report including policy recommendations.