Credit hours:

Course Summary

The overuse of psychotropic medication for children and youth in foster care has been a popular topic for national news networks and in discussions among policy makers, child welfare professionals, and other stakeholders in the field. 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 provide 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 with the use of psychotropic medications for children and youth

  • How to engage children and youth in your care 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 national media story "Foster Kids Given Psychiatric Drugs At Higher Rates" from National Public Radio (NPR) that provides an overview of the uses and concerns with psychotropic medication in foster care.

Step 2

Learn the impact psychotropic medications can have on young people and grow your understanding of potential behaviors that can occur in reaction to psychotropic medications. Read in-depth report "Colorado Responds Slowly to Psychotropic Drug Use Among Foster Kids" by the Denver Post, featuring FosterClub Lived Experience Leader Diego Conde.

Step 3

Review the "Making Healthy Choices" guide developed for youth in foster care that discusses 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 the guide "Supporting Youth in Foster Care in Making Healthy Choices" 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?

Step 6

Finished the module?  If you are logged in as a subscribed user, take the quiz to earn your Continuing Education Credit hours and certificate!

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Course Discussion

sspringer5's picture

sspringer5 said:

Foster parents have the ability to know more about foster children than anyone, including the bio parents. We should continually access the medication of foster children and always be open to things that could/would help them grow outside of medication.
iveygibb's picture

iveygibb said:

We recently adopted an 11 yo girl who has special needs but also has a variety of medications on top of that. We quickly saw the negative and extreme side effects to these medications and how those caring for her and educators "survived" the last 5 years. She was truly a zombie. We are in the beginning stages of exploring non-medicine alternative options -- for both us and for her long-term health these drugs are only hindering her quality of life. I fully believe foster/adoptive parents should 100% be involved in the decision to medicate or not medicate the child in their home. Hopeful they would want the best for this child as they are willing to care for them -- just because they came with something doesn't mean it's in their best interest.
Sharon Astyk's picture

Sharon Astyk said:

We waited much longer than most parents to medicate our autistic son, and I feel good about our choice. At a certain point his aggression couldn't safely be managed without medication, and then we began. I admit, we're still looking for the right treatment - it can be very frustrating knowing your child needs help and not being able to find the right answer.
tcallup's picture

tcallup said:

Foster parents should ask questions regarding the medication like side effects. The foster parent should try to determine if the side effects out weigh the issue/problem. If the foster parent questions the doctor decision they should get the Guardian ad litem involved.
dt's picture

dt said:

They should be included in the decision of whether to prescribe medication. Including the knowledge of the condition, side effects, and health risks. If prescribed they should know the dosage and all the instructons regarding the drugs.
jkatkinson's picture

jkatkinson said:

Knowing any & all medicines but especially psychotropics will help both the children & caregivers. The caregivers can research the medications & then be able to help make informed decisions with the child/teen about staying on, changing or stopping the medication.
rlatkinson's picture

rlatkinson said:

I believe foster parents should have the information from caseworker related to prior medical history- including all medications taken & why. They need to be made aware of behavioral or performance issues, including documentation from schools, so better decisions can be made by all involved.
bmitchell's picture

bmitchell said:

yes. as the primary daily care giver, I need to be told about any medications and what possible side affects and behavior the child might experience and what i would need to look for.
rebeccaosborn's picture

rebeccaosborn said:

How should foster parents be consulted or actively participate in the treatment plans of children and youth they care for? The foster parents should know the diagnosis of the child and then research any prescribed medications. It is helpful to write down the side effects on a daily basis and then when the parent and the child see the physician there can be a discussion on how appropriate the medication is for the child or if changes need to be made in the dosage. It is very important for the foster parent to take the child to the doctor visits and not leave that task to the social worker if the parent is unavailable.
Dhinton's picture

Dhinton said:

Have a thorough assessment of the child done first, which includes reviewing all history from parents before putting them on any meds. Then go for the lessor dose first, if the child really needs it and only increase to the level the adult is willing to fill in missing support to the child vs increasing the child dose of med.