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

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.
rebeccaosborn's picture

rebeccaosborn said:

How should foster parents be consulted or actively participate in the treatment plans of children and youth they care for? The foster parents should know the diagnosis of the child and then research any prescribed medications. It is helpful to write down the side effects on a daily basis and then when the parent and the child see the physician there can be a discussion on how appropriate the medication is for the child or if changes need to be made in the dosage. It is very important for the foster parent to take the child to the doctor visits and not leave that task to the social worker if the parent is unavailable.
Dhinton's picture

Dhinton said:

Have a thorough assessment of the child done first, which includes reviewing all history from parents before putting them on any meds. Then go for the lessor dose first, if the child really needs it and only increase to the level the adult is willing to fill in missing support to the child vs increasing the child dose of med.
Shberkshire's picture

Shberkshire said:

By participating in all leaves of there care. Like with there doctors and school.
phoenixhawk's picture

phoenixhawk said:

My wife and I adopted a 16 year old almost 2 years ago. When he came to us the medications prescribed to him were so numerous it took 1 gallon zip-lock bag to hold it all. We were amazed at how many drugs he was on. The drugs cost ran over $1,000 a month which was incredible to us. When I asked why all these drugs were necessary we were told for PTSD, anxiety, and ADD. Over time I kept questioning the validity of these drugs with his psychiatric doctor. Eventually all the drugs were removed with the exception of one which he does need to take to treat ADD. One thing I learned in all this is most group homes just want kids who are like zombies so they are easy to care for. When bring a child in your home don't just take what is fed to you about their condition. Challenge it and make them justify the diagnosis given to the child. Otherwise you aren't doing what best for the child by continuing to allow them to be drug induced zombies.
lmcurry's picture

lmcurry said:

I have a 2 year old that was born exposed to Heroin. He has issues with rage and is in behavioral therapy. I am worried they are going to try to eventually put him on drugs. While I know it can be necessary at times, we want this to be a last option.
CarolineShafer's picture

CarolineShafer said:

One important way a foster parent can do to take in active role in the treatment plans of the youth they care for is to be educated on the affects these different medications can have on foster children. They must keep an eye on their behavior and report any differences they may see in the child to the doctor.