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

hudsonslater's picture

hudsonslater said:

Foster parents should be intimately involved in the psychiatric care of foster children in their care. Foster parents have the most interaction with these children and are in a unique position to recognize behaviors and tendencies that may indicate a psychiatric problem. Foster parents should work with the child in a cooperative manner, and not in a strictly dictatorial way. The child should not be re-victimized or stigmatized during the treatment process. Foster parents should take into account the child's past trauma and recognize that there will always be problematic psychiatric issues with foster care, and should not rush to medicate, especially if it is just as a way to reduce problems for the parent. The main goal should be to provide a way for the child to succeed.
karalou's picture

karalou said:

Foster parents should work together with case workers, the child, and the child's doctor to determine the best course of action for the child. Foster parents should be given a complete medical history for the child and be actively involved in medical visits, case planning, and any therapy the child needs.
Chaineddown17's picture

Chaineddown17 said:

Foster parents and the children and youth services would benefit from being able to communicate and advocate for the child in their care to ensure that they are on only the medications needed. As children with trauma may express different needs, it is important to get to the know the individual and assess and treat them as the individual. Foster parents have a very rough job of trying to provide what a child does not have, and may have never had, for the time that the child is with them. Having medications that are needed and beneficial ensure that the child can work through their emotions and addresses and express their feelings freely.
csnewsom2020's picture

csnewsom2020 replied:

The foster parent should go to appts with the child to be able to understand their medical needs. I think that the foster parent needs to learn about the foster child's medical history, including diagnoses, behaviors if any, and medications.
tipster127's picture

tipster127 said:

Foster Parents should actively talk to the youths in their care. They should help foster youth work through their emotions with their healthcare providers. These kids aren't on their own and foster families should help them feel that. Foster parents can help the children advocate for themselves and listen to the childs needs, wants and concerns, and come up with behavioral help aside from medication.
Kphillips's picture

Kphillips said:

The foster parent should go to appts with the child to be able to understand their medical needs. I think that the foster parent needs to learn about the foster child's medical history, including diagnoses, behaviors if any, and medications. Other options like therapy should be used prior to going to medications. The foster parent needs to know what each medication is for, what the goal of the med is, and what are some possible side effects to watch for. If side effects are noted such as sedation or loss of appetite, that needs to be reported to the child's doctor to see if meds need to be adjusted or decreased.
StephAnne's picture

StephAnne said:

Older children should be aware of their medical rights and histories to prevent over medicatimg
Jenniferstone772@gmail.com's picture

Jenniferstone77... said:

I think that foster parents should do all that they can to avoid psychotic medications if necessary and look at other options if possible.
G.Brown's picture

G.Brown said:

Speak to doctors and caseworkers keeping them well informed on any changes or side effects, being informed of what the meds are and and why they are being treated with this med
TrentDHall's picture

TrentDHall said:

Some ways would be to: 1.) Talk to the pharmacists filling the prescriptions about how to use the medication, potential side effects, etc., 2.) keep all medications secure (lock it up!), 3.) encourage the youth in your care to talk openly to you about their feelings about the treatment. If they don't feel comfortable talking to you, encourage them to speak with another trusted adult (casework, CASA advocate, etc.).