Credit hours:
2.50

Course Summary

The overuse of psychotropic medication for children and youth in foster care has been a hot topic, as profiled in the national news and in discussions among policy makers and child welfare professionals. It is critical that foster parents have a strong understanding of this important issue, so they can help to manage the mental health and treatment of the young people they care for. This module will provides an introduction to the issue, as well as a tool that foster parents and caregivers can use with young people in their care to help manage mental health needs and decisions about psychotropic medications.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • General concerns revolving around the use of psychotropic medications for children and youth
  • How to engage your young person in conversations about their mental health and the use of medication to manage it
  • Trauma-informed strategies to manage a child or youth’s mental health

Step 1

Read "Foster Kids Given Psychiatric Drugs At Higher Rates", a national media story from NPR that provides an overview of the psychotropic medication issue in foster care.

Step 2

Learn what the impact psychotropic medications has on a young person and get a better understanding of your child’s behavior in reaction to psychotropic medications. Read "Colorado Responds Slowly to Psychotropic Drug Use Among Foster Kids", an in-depth report published by the Denver Post (2014), featuring FosterClub young leader Diego Conde.

Step 3

Review "Making Healthy Choices", a guide developed for youth in foster care regarding making decisions about their mental health, treatment options, and the use of psychotropic medications.

Step 4

Learn more about treatment for youth in foster care who have experienced trauma and are working to improve their mental health by reviewing "Supporting Youth in Foster Care in Making Healthy Choices" , a guide for caregivers and other supportive adults

Step 5

Join the discussion in the comments below to answer the following question:

How should foster parents be consulted or actively participate in the treatment plans of children and youth they care for?

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Course Discussion

epowell's picture

epowell said:

I have two kids in my home and they are both on medication. In my opinion it varies from situation to situation, but I do believe med should be the last resort. If mess in the result making sure that your educated is very important because just like the different passages stated sometimes kids are put on things that ended up doing more harm than anything. So just be aware than go from there.
kimberley504's picture

kimberley504 said:

Our foster/adoptive daughter (six years old) joined us in June 2015. She has ADHD. She had been kicked out of pre-k programs and after joining us had difficulty in kindergarten. She was sent to the principal's office almost daily and had few friends. We started her in therapy, had a behavioral therapist visit her several times a week at school and at home, and put her on medication. She needed all of these to be able to function at school, but her reputation could not be fixed. We have moved and started a different school and it's like night and day. She is no longer the kid that hits people, and all of these therapies helped, in addition to having a loving, stable home.
mooreson92's picture

mooreson92 said:

We have a 4 year old that we adopted from foster care last year. He has a history of trauma and we are exploring methods of treatment other than medications.
moorekandm's picture

moorekandm replied:

No kid that young should be on meds
linneacnord's picture

linneacnord said:

I am a strong believer of medication as a last resort. Reading about the high number of children given medication for their behaviors, I feel sad that this is the option most used. I know that there are times when it needs to be done, but I truly hope that people use other methods first in order to help children before medicating them into a hazy state.
Smorton's picture

Smorton said:

We Foster 2 young boys, almost 2 years of age. I have no experience with medications in foster children, but if they were recommended by the doctor I would make sure as their foster parent that it wasn't the Only thing they were getting. Meaning therapy I feel is very important
albertjeffrey27's picture

albertjeffrey27 said:

I have been a foster parent and now HCTC Foster dad for higher care foster kids. In both, for the past 8 years, I have encounter the arrogance that may be perceived by foster parent's by medical doctors or Case Managers. In my experience, I have learned to advocate for both my regular foster care children and higher care foster kids. How? Well, as repeatedly mentioned, treat them kids as your own, raise the flag and you don't have to take the care of those medical facilities that are contracted by the your State or Agency overseeing the case management of the child. You can always advocate by justifying it is your parental or guardianship to seek a second opinion in the best medical benefit of the foster child and not the agency or contracted medical doctor. For instance, I adopted an 11 year old boy who had eleven (11) powerful prescription medications. In a matter of month's when I first fostered this young kiddo, his constant vomiting, nervous ticks and sleep spells was easily controlled as I began to monitored the medications and the time's these medications were administered. In lest than a year, my son now take's one over the counter medication (IRON) to treat his low iron deficiency. Prozac, ADD, ADHD, Zoloft and all other crazy harsh on your body medications were slowly reduced as I fought for my foster/adoptive son to received second and third medical recommendations from reputable hospitals or clinics. I felt some, case manager's feel they are above the foster parents which in my case, I am please to report I turned that table around and made sure I sustained the courts well informed of my child's care and need for slow decrease of all his medications. We as foster parents need to engage in the better interest of these foster kids life's. I have had a few of the 8 foster children I have had that I would agree on some of their medications such as increasing their ADD/ADHD medication based on my in home care and daily care of such children. Overall, I agree that I see most of my foster children being overly medicated due to poor parental supervision by some foster families or case managers not engaging in advocating for the child under their care. In conclusion; don't feel intimidated by the foster child's attorney or treatment plan. Just advocate for the child and seek other medical venues to ensure you get a second or third opinion form medical or psychiatric professionals in order to get the right treatment and person to help you with your foster child. My now adoptive son is healthy and striving socially and in school with no more medications in his body. One life saved and more to come in the future.
melissamcgill's picture

melissamcgill said:

Over the last 9 years I have had 5 foster kids come thru my home. Most of them stayed for at least 2 years or more. They all had different issues but at some point were all on medications. I agree that we as fosterparents need to be included in the discussion of taking them off of a medication. We are the ones with them day in and day out. We see the benefit they have on them. If they are working why change it.
Desiree9157's picture

Desiree9157 said:

I believe that when you open your home to a foster child, that child should be treated as if he or she is your own. when my foster daughter came to live with me, I ensured that I obtained full knowledge and understanding of her medications and what they were for, it is VERY important to manage their medication correctly, because you are responsible for giving the child the medication as well as keep a log to track when the medication was given to ensure that the correct doses are give and the correct time. It is also important to monitor the child once medications have been given to them to ensure that there aren't any bad effects that the child feels after taking it and if so, it is your responsibility to speak on their behalf for them if you feel something is wrong or if maybe it is not helping and other medication may be needed.
ncsaint's picture

ncsaint said:

We had an 11 year old foster boy who had several emotional problems. We asked the Case worker if she would allow him a psychiatrist to review him. She emphatically stated no. She immediately stated that she does not believe in drugs or the use of drugs for children. I understand that there are cases of over medication or being medicated for no reason. But there are times when medication is needed. Because the case worker refused to work with us we had to ask that the boy be re-homed. We were sad and disappointed because we could have worked with the child if we could have gotten the help ourselves.