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

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.
dmagill's picture

dmagill said:

I feel the foster parents should be part of the treatment team and fully invested.
VMagill127's picture

VMagill127 said:

I feel that caregivers should definitely be an important part of a treatment team - we spend the most time with the youth and see them in a variety of situations that others may not. Caregivers should be able to provide feedback and input and it should carry weight with the rest of the team - as long as the caregiver is trauma informed and advocating for the best interest of the child.
ellenholt's picture

ellenholt said:

Our daughter had severe trauma when we adopted her at 3 1/2. At 5 she was diagnosed with ADHD (drug exposed in utero to meth). For years we tried everything we and her team could think of, but when she hit 9 years old, her screaming and temper tantrums escalated. One night she put her hand through the glass in the back door window. We then added in Risperidone. It was not an easy decision, but at that point we felt that she would never be able to move on, or see there was another way if we didn't give her some relief from her inability to control her emotions. She is doing better, it is not a fix and she will need therapy for the rest of her life, but at least she has the hope of moving on, and finding that she can be successful.
beverly40's picture

beverly40 said:

I don’t know what to say my son is on medication but its not like some kids I see that is on two or three meds. Maybe more is needed to help them to deal with whatever they went through.
beverly40's picture

beverly40 said:

I don’t know what to say my son is on medication but its not like some kids I see that is on two or three meds. Maybe more is needed to help them to deal with whatever they went through.
Karyn.alisa's picture

Karyn.alisa said:

I currently have a teen girl who is on seven medications and is getting no therapy services. Crazy and sad. :(
andidoll's picture

andidoll said:

I am a full time school teacher and foster parent. Knowing the sometimes harmful effects of medications, we waited 6 years and explored many other options before deciding to (finally!) try medication. My (foster) son is not over-medicated, and the addition of medication has been a blessing. He is now able to focus at school and went from failing out of school to ending the previous school year with straight A's. We do not use the medication as a means to control him, numb him, or sedate him. It is a tool that has helped him to focus and be successful. I agree that it is a serious decision to decide to medicate and that other tools should be pursued before deciding to use medication. However, it can be beneficial when it is used correctly.