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

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!
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