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

Yjaudits's picture

Yjaudits replied:

I started my son on medication as well. He too is doing amazing. I often get negative feedback for placing him on meds but I am happy that I did. He is showing great progress in school.
gibb.luke's picture

gibb.luke said:

Having researched, experienced their child in the home, and understood what these medications are intended to "do" for this child, absolutely, the foster parent should be involved in medication management.
sspringer5's picture

sspringer5 said:

Foster parents have the ability to know more about foster children than anyone, including the bio parents. We should continually access the medication of foster children and always be open to things that could/would help them grow outside of medication.
iveygibb's picture

iveygibb said:

We recently adopted an 11 yo girl who has special needs but also has a variety of medications on top of that. We quickly saw the negative and extreme side effects to these medications and how those caring for her and educators "survived" the last 5 years. She was truly a zombie. We are in the beginning stages of exploring non-medicine alternative options -- for both us and for her long-term health these drugs are only hindering her quality of life. I fully believe foster/adoptive parents should 100% be involved in the decision to medicate or not medicate the child in their home. Hopeful they would want the best for this child as they are willing to care for them -- just because they came with something doesn't mean it's in their best interest.
Sharon Astyk's picture

Sharon Astyk said:

We waited much longer than most parents to medicate our autistic son, and I feel good about our choice. At a certain point his aggression couldn't safely be managed without medication, and then we began. I admit, we're still looking for the right treatment - it can be very frustrating knowing your child needs help and not being able to find the right answer.
tcallup's picture

tcallup said:

Foster parents should ask questions regarding the medication like side effects. The foster parent should try to determine if the side effects out weigh the issue/problem. If the foster parent questions the doctor decision they should get the Guardian ad litem involved.
dt's picture

dt said:

They should be included in the decision of whether to prescribe medication. Including the knowledge of the condition, side effects, and health risks. If prescribed they should know the dosage and all the instructons regarding the drugs.
jkatkinson's picture

jkatkinson said:

Knowing any & all medicines but especially psychotropics will help both the children & caregivers. The caregivers can research the medications & then be able to help make informed decisions with the child/teen about staying on, changing or stopping the medication.
rlatkinson's picture

rlatkinson said:

I believe foster parents should have the information from caseworker related to prior medical history- including all medications taken & why. They need to be made aware of behavioral or performance issues, including documentation from schools, so better decisions can be made by all involved.
bmitchell's picture

bmitchell said:

yes. as the primary daily care giver, I need to be told about any medications and what possible side affects and behavior the child might experience and what i would need to look for.