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

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.
alex.wallace's picture

alex.wallace said:

Foster parents should be active in the foster child's treatment plan in order to be able to help that child properly. Foster children need to know someone cares for them and by being active in the child's life is one of the best ways to show that.
penny.wallace's picture

penny.wallace said:

How should foster parents be consulted or actively participate in the treatment plans of children and youth they care for? It is our responsibility as foster parents to actively be a part of every aspect of their lives. Attend every Doctor appointment, therapy session, IEP meeting, and any other meeting or appointment that may come up. Also listen to your child, no matter the age. Foster children should feel comfortable with their foster family and always make time to privately talk to each of your children. Most foster children don't want all their business out there for everyone to know.
brookiedee's picture

brookiedee said:

Foster parents should make sure youth understand their rights and why they are receiving medication. They should also support and be there for older youth if they want them involved in medical decisions.
Jodi.1432's picture

Jodi.1432 said:

How should foster parents be consulted or actively participate in the treatment plans of children and youth they care for? I feel that it is important for us to be someone that the kids can go to and talk. Let them ask questions and don't judge them for the way they feel. I know that one of our foster children was given an antidepressant after spending a week in the hospital for SI w/ a plan. As soon as she got out of the hospital, the outpatient doctor immediately took her off of them. I have mixed emotions about this. He stated that her behaviors were situational so we needed to switch her situation. How do we do that? It has been a long road with her. Still, I wonder if the meds would be better. I'm not saying that it should be long term but at the same time, I think some of these kids need it to get through. Just as an adult will go when they are getting divorce or if their child dies, we get put on antidepressants just to get us through that time. Sometimes, kids just need a little boost to help them deal.
jdwilliams's picture

jdwilliams said:

Foster parents are on the front line of care concerning children. They have the most contact and observation of problem behavior and concerns. They not only should be consulted but need to also observe for any side effects a medication may have.