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

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'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.).
EmDHall's picture

EmDHall said:

There are several ways, but to name a few: 1.) Talk (in detail) with the specialists prescribing the medication about utility/use/monitoring, 2.) meticulously monitor medication application by the child in your care (keep records!), 3.) make sure the youth knows how to obtain and keep up with a copy of their medical records for future use.
MCSemones's picture

MCSemones said:

Foster parents should take the time to learn about proposed treatments and discuss them with the foster youth and team. Not all specialists are trauma-informed, and when possible they should help seek out trauma-informed therapists and clinicians.
ericjo50's picture

ericjo50 said:

Go to all appts, document what you as the foster parent sees with the child, speak up and advocate for the child if you feel the medication is or isnt needed, along with any side effects.
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.