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

shelly_5501's picture

shelly_5501 said:

I agree with dt comment, children should know what type of medication they are taking and the side effect it can have on them. They may have to take the medication while in school so being aware of the dosage and instruction is very important.
aweaver's picture

aweaver said:

They should attend dr appointments and therapy appointments with the youth if possible. They should help the youth understand which medications they're taking and the reasons they're taking them. They should report their observations of the youth's moods and side effects.
LisaofFL's picture

LisaofFL said:

Foster parents need to consider side effects to the benefits.
SamiNic0803's picture

SamiNic0803 said:

We started with therapy for my foster son. Three months went by and he got tested for ADHD. His results came backing diagnosing him of ADHD. We started medication almost 2 weeks later. He is doing amazing and is alot more focused now since on the medication.
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.