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

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.
gwayns's picture

gwayns said:

Foster parents should be the advocate for the foster child. Maintaining and assuring that all avenues have been traveled to exhaustion regarding behavior modifications/therapy prior to the introduction of psychotropic medications.
deniselong's picture

deniselong said:

How should foster parents be consulted or actively participate in the treatment plans of children and youth they care for?....Foster parents should rarely be content that psychotropic medications can be the first and/or only treatment offered to a youth with psychological or behavioral issues. Foster parents should work with the child's medical team to utilize a combination of therapy, physical activity, healthy eating, mindfulness and, finally, medication to optimize the youth's well being.