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

jmangen1974's picture

jmangen1974 said:

I think as foster parents we need to evaluate the childs history and take note of what the foster parents see with the child. We need to quit prescribing meds just to control a childs behavior. Stop and think what the child has went through. Maybe there are triggers that create the childs issues. Meds are not always the answer.
Letty1998's picture

Letty1998 said:

I believe we need to take in the facts we are given upon placement and then seek our own trusted doctors to get another opinion. I have had kids come with 5-6 different meds by different doctors. We went to our doctor and started getting meds took away or changed to something that was more appropriate and less side effects.
Sunnysar's picture

Sunnysar said:

It is so important to be aware of what medications our children take when they come to us and why. Don't be afraid to ask the doctor or get a new assessment or second opinion if it seems like your child is taking too many medications.
Clarolga's picture

Clarolga said:

One of the biggest challenges I have found in working with foster children is knowing why the medications were prescribed and why they are needed. We were able to wean our child off of many of the medications with support of his psychiatrist, however it felt very trial and error and haphazard and with better communication with previous doctors could have been much smoother.
shawna42's picture

shawna42 said:

Foster parents are the front line defense for the child taking medications. We had one foster son that his medication was being continually increased while he was in care. They were not dealing with any of the issues that he had, just drugging him up more. We've finally got him into a treatment facility for intense counseling. I'm hoping it helps. The meds that they were giving him were just a bandaid that he would quit using as soon as he was of age.
mcmerolla's picture

mcmerolla said:

Since foster parents have quite a bit of insight into the children's well-being on a daily basis, they should definitely have some say regarding their medical needs and the administration of medication. The responsibility of this undoubtedly falls on them.
merollba's picture

merollba said:

appreciated the balanced approach here of discussion of the pros and cons of the medications available, which can be helpful while also showing alternative options for kids that respond to trauma-informed therapy.
vcox's picture

vcox said:

Foster parents should be the biggest advocate for the children in their care. They should work with a team that considers the whole child and their circumstances along with their behaviors prior to starting medication.
ktrickel's picture

ktrickel said:

Foster parents should be the biggest advocate for the children in their care. They are the ones interacting with them day to day and talking to them, they are the ones that need to make sure their children's voices are heard.
lanne's picture

lanne said:

Involvement, involvement, involvement! Accompanying children to the doctors, keep in contact with teachers, keep a log of any problematic behaviors--times and duration, starting with talk therapy. It's important to keep communication open and to gather as much information as possible from all stakeholders. As a teacher, I often have to fill out forms for students getting evaluations for LDs, so I am aware of the process. Information and communication are key!