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

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.
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.
Jay Summers's picture

Jay Summers said:

I feel it is vital that foster parents stay involved and advocate on behalf of children that are in their home. Although children may have issues that require medication, I don't feel it is necessary for doctors to prescribe them meds for the rest of their lives while in foster care. It is important for the foster parents to ask questions to ensure they are not taking meds that they don't need.
Desiree9157's picture

Desiree9157 said:

I had a 9 year old girl in my home who was on 5 different medications, however all though some would improve behaviors others seem to be throwing her off and giving her side effects (headaches, mood swings, crying spells etc.). I old the case worker as well as made an appointment with her doctor to discuss and turns out that 2 of the medications were not compatible and causing sever side effects and she was taken off those two. since then current 3 medications she is on seems to be working well and side effects have diminished.
BevSummers's picture

BevSummers said:

Although, I do not always condone taking meds to control behaviors and moods, sometimes it is needed. It is extremely imperative that foster parents advocate and remain active in the treatment plan of children they foster so they will understand why and how the meds affect the children. Foster Parents also need to lend a voice and speak up if they feel the meds are not needed for the children.
mildred king's picture

mildred king said:

I found the booklet to be rather helpful as it relates to children on medication(s) due to behavior problems, depression, ADHD etc..however, i do feel that the foster parent should be consulted as well as involved in the treatment process for the child in their care as it relates to medication(s) he/she may be on or possibly prescribed while in their care. It will serve as to educate the foster parent and provide additional support to the foster child. Since the child would be in the care of the foster parent, the foster parent would be able to share information with the provider in order to better serve the child as to the need or not need medication.
Nelsonk123.'s picture

Nelsonk123. said:

I wish I had this material when we first fostered our daughter. It is great info! When she was 15 she made the decision to take her self off the meds. She hasn't needed any meds in 2 years.
vmburk's picture

vmburk said:

I absolutely loved loved loved the booklets and checklists in this training Foster Mom Vicki
aggieerik's picture

aggieerik said:

From my experiences in Foster placements, most of the kids do have high levels of medication, especially in the psychotropic category or ADHD. I am familiar with "group home" and youth ranch setups as well. most of the care takers who do care will try to make sure that kids are getting actual therapy or at least getting some kind of way to vent anger, frustration, disappointment etc. Some of the facilities that take public money will be required to have the kids under the care of a nurse and or doctor. What i have seen is that contract physicians are providing or continuing to provide medications without understanding if the child actually needs the drugs. They go with the assessments of the facility as to whether the child has behavioral issues. Far too often it is the behavioral issues that tend to land a child with a certain mood stabilizer. When it comes to these psychotropics, LPC, PsY, or other licencesed prescribers would be better off administering and or dispensing these products than doctor or nurse. I ended up adopting a special needs teenager who had been on clonadine for most of his growing up. While drug companies may want us on medications like that long term, the reality is that these drugs should be treating shorter term issues. Therapy, counseling, and positive activities help as much or more than the medication in my opinion. the medications have their time and place. I agree with the literature that they are overprescribed.