Credit hours:

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

swashington12's picture

swashington12 said:

Ratworld3's picture

Ratworld3 said:

I think it would be a good idea for a foster parent to keep a diary of the child's behaviors so to provide the most accurate record of the side effects to keep up to date with doctors and child. It can be hard to remember exact items and occurrences without a diary
tammymock7's picture

tammymock7 said:

I strong believe there should be a better way to make this safer and only given to the children who really need to be put on these meds. It is truly damaging.
PattiH's picture

PattiH said:

We should know what/why/estimated length of time on medications..
tmmhndrsn's picture

tmmhndrsn said:

Foster parents should look to different ways to help youth deal with their stress, by getting counseling, have team meetings, asking for more ideas to try from your team so they don't have to rely on meds. Ive had several youth come to me from different homes on meds that were verys strong these children were sleeping most of the day. I found activities for them such as youth groups, helping plant gardens, taking care of animals which many thought was the coolest thing as we have chickens, ducks, mini pigs, many of the youth really enjoyed having the responsibility of taking care of the animal and it seemed to give them confidence in their situation.
heatherwood's picture

heatherwood said:

Foster parents should help ensure the children feel that the doctors office is a safe place. They should also engage in their foster kids healthcare process by asking the doctor questions.'s picture

requiempress@gm... said:

Foster parents should go to doctor's appointments and advocate for their foster children.
rdsimpson7112's picture

rdsimpson7112 said:

Foster parents should always consider whether the issues the child is dealing with could be more related to situation rather than a need for medication. It is also important to explore all avenues and options prior to a child going on medication. My husband and I have dealt with a lot of ADHD and hyperactivity in general with our placements. We have tried essential oils, activities to burn excess energy, dietary changes, consistent routines, and more. Sometimes these other options are helpful and sometimes it has been necessary to try medication. If the children are older and understand more, they should definitely be encouraged to be more active in the decisions about medication.
Truth and Love's picture

Truth and Love said:

Taking care of a child on medicine is a day to day adjustment.
Trinalafaye's picture

Trinalafaye said:

Foster parents should make sure that they explore all options before they use medication. Research and find out all possible ways to help the children that you have. There is meditation, diet, exercise, therapy and anything that can calm the child down so that they aren't harming themselves and it helps with depression. Also make sure that you talk with the child to notice any signs or symptoms that could be troubling and let them know that you are there to help.