Columbia Journalism School


Stabile project is Casey Medal finalist

July 03, 2012

Drugs in the System,” an exposé of how the Texas health and foster-care system overprescribed psychotropic drugs to children in foster care, got an honorable mention in the video long form category in this year’s Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. Over 500 stories competed for the medal, which is awarded to exemplary reporting on women, children and families in the U.S.

The story, which aired on the PBS program “Need to Know,” was produced by Mar Cabra and Sarah Fitzpatrick, who were part of the 2010 class of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism and the Columbia Journalism School’s Documentary Program. Funds to complete the investigation were provided by the Stabile Center, The Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, Patsy Pulitzer Preston and the New York chapter of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

This is what the Casey Medal judges said about the story, which began as Cabra and Fitzpatrick’s master’s project:

An eight-month investigation revealed that children, especially those in foster care, were being prescribed powerful medications in combinations that left them lethargic and morose. Foster kids in U.S. were receiving antipsychotic drugs at nine times the rate of other children in the Medicaid system. Adoptive and foster parents detailed the monumental challenges they faced weaning their children off of meds in order to get to know the real child and enable them to develop a healthy attachment. This story made a sizable splash, leading to a Government Accountability Office reports and hearings on Capitol Hill. Judges praised the reporting for being “voice for the voiceless.”

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