“Orange Is the New Black’s” trailblazing portrayal of foster care

“Orange Is the New Black’s” trailblazing portrayal of foster care

In this excerpt from a new Salon.com article, which takes a look at how the hit show “Orange is the New Black” is “trailblazing in the way it manages to capture the painful contradictions at the heart of the foster care system", Children's Rights' Ira Lustbader and Fostering the Future blogger Michael Place are featured.

By Hayley Krischer

Michael Place was a teenager on foster care living among roaches with his foster mother (a librarian by day, alcoholic by night) in their Astoria, Queens, public housing apartment. Place was put on a heavy dose of psychotropic drugs, which has become a commonplace solution to dealing with “problematic” foster kids. He was institutionalized soon after. “The psychiatric hospital was my escape from the madness,” he writes. “The nurses were more consoling than my foster mom. They frequently checked my vitals and made sure I had enough supplies for arts and crafts. Simply put, they cared.”

Now off meds and emancipated from the system, Place formed Mind the Gap, a nonprofit that works as a liaison between foster kids and their doctors. In an interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, Ira Lustbader, the associate director of foster care advocacy group Children’s Rights, said 35 percent of kids in the foster care system are on one to seven different psychotropic meds, or “chemical restraints.” They’re drugged to the point of incoherency like Michael Place — or many of the other  foster care “graduates” who are speaking out about the overuse of strong antipsychotics for children.

This is the reality of foster care: As of November of last year there were 400,000 kids in the foster care system. 

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