Credit hours:
2.25

Course Summary

Please take Psychotropic Medications prior to this course. In this module, we’ll look further into the use of psychotropic medications in children and youth in foster care, beginning with a landmark investigation by the Bay Area News Group in California. Review of a report from the American Bar Association provides information that can help you become a young person’s best advocate. Throughout this module, you will hear directly from young people about the short- and long-term effects of the psychotropic medications they received while in foster care.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • Causes of overuse of psychotropic medications for children and youth in foster care
  • About the off-label use of psychotropic medications and the impacts on young people
  • How to identify various types of psychotropic medications and their intended use
  • How, as foster parent or caregiver, you can become a child’s best advocate for safe, responsible, supported, and supervised use of medication
Step 1 Watch the Bay Area News Group’s Drugging Our Kids, a powerful investigative documentary that led to reform of psychiatric medication use in California: 

Step 2

Review "Psychotropic Medication and Children in Foster Care" from the American Bar Association, which provides details about types of psychotropic medications and the role of caregivers and foster parents. Only read pages 1-25.

Step 3

Read the ThinkProgress article "Sweeping New Legislation In California Limits Psychotropics Among Foster Children", which provides an overview of leading changes in policy and practice concerning psychotropic medications.

Step 4

Join the discussion in the comments below to answer the following question:

As an advocate for children, what is the foster parent’s role in ensuring that medication is properly used for children in foster care?

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Course Discussion

G.Brown's picture

G.Brown said:

Making sure the child and you understand why the med is being given and it is used properly, keeping clear communication on any side effects that may occur or have occured with doctors and knowing whats going on
EmDHall's picture

EmDHall said:

The foster parent must be present and involved in both the prescribing (or following up on reasons for prescribing with the physician) and administration (talk with the pharmacist!!) of the medication. This is essential to ensure the child's safety. If the child does not feel comfortable enough with the foster parent to discuss how the medication (or lack thereof) makes them feel, the foster parent should encourage the child to talk with a trusted adult (caseworker, CASA advocate, ad litem, etc.).
TrentDHall's picture

TrentDHall said:

Be sure to talk with the prescribing physician regarding the medication: What is the specific diagnosis? Are there other options? Also talk with the pharmacist to understand how the medication should be used and any potential side effects.
MCSemones's picture

MCSemones said:

Understand the risks and benefits of the medications your child is prescribed or their team proposes; monitor whether the medication benefits or harms; consider and investigate non-pharmaceutical options that may replace the need for medication and better address root causes; advocate for the child's best interest when it comes to whether medication is appropriate.
MicahMcreid's picture

MicahMcreid said:

This Course was difficult to take because of the broken links in the steps that were to be completed. I was able to find the video on YouTube and a pdf copy of the ABA article online using various search engines. The ABA article, "Psychotropic Medication and Children in Foster Care" was most informative and provided an excellent resource for the future. Having had foster children who were prescribed these medications, I believe this course (as well as part 1) is absolutely critical to understand.
Letty1998's picture

Letty1998 said:

gather information and make sure the medicine is actually needed
Sunnysar's picture

Sunnysar said:

It is so important that we're making sure to take a holistic approach to managing our children's traumas. Medication is only a small part of the puzzle. Diet, sleep, therapy, exercise and the child's self-care are all components to be examined.
Clarolga's picture

Clarolga said:

Medication is not the only way to manage trauma, forming attachment, providing a safe environment with healthy food, seeking out therapies like talk therapy, OT, listening therapy, and meditation have made a big difference in our home.
vcox's picture

vcox said:

Foster parents should advocate and create a team of advocates for the children in their care.
ktrickel's picture

ktrickel said:

Foster parents need to advocate for their children. They need to listen and watch their children to ensure that medications are absolutely necessary. I think that full psych evaluations are necessary, and a trauma therapist is a must for all children in care.