Credit hours:

Course Summary

*This is part 2 of a 2 part series. Please complete Psychotropic Medications Part 1 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 will provide information to 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:

  • Why psychotropic medications are overused for children and youth in foster care

  • The impact of off-label psychotropic medications on young people in care

  • How to identify various types of psychotropic medications and their intended uses

  • Ways foster parents and caregivers can become children and youth's best advocates for safe, responsible, supported, and supervised use of medication where appropriate

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.

Step 3

Read the ThinkProgress article "Sweeping New Legislation In California Limits Psychotropics Among Foster Children" for 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

Rolanda007's picture

Rolanda007 said:

Psychotrophic medication can and will assist children with altered mental status, behaviors, and trauma induced antecedents. Providing a foster child with stability, safety. security, and consistency with the assistance of medication reduce and eliminate behaviors and antecedents. However, over-medicating and not giving the medication correctly as well as not being knowledgeable of the side effects is not healthy for the child or the parent. Parental observation is important and necesssary.
derekcbart's picture

derekcbart said:

Our (now adoptive) children are each taking a medication, but we have done our due diligence (like everyone should) in making sure that the medical histories were taken, and this was helping them with issues that were affecting school and home.
kimberley504's picture

kimberley504 said:

I agree with some comments about not putting a child on medication until other methods are tried. However, if a child is having difficulties within the family, their community, their school, and/or other relationships, we owe it to them to try prescribed medications. The key is that medication ALONE will not help--therapy, behavioral specialists, etc. need to be consulted and included in the overall care plan. We make sure to have periodic medical tests and evaluations to ensure the proper dosage, and to make sure they are not being harmed physically. I am of the belief that it is unfair to ignore issues in areas of their life as "kids being kids," as our child was having trouble making friends, hitting classmates, being disliked by teachers, and garnering all the attention at home due to their behaviors. After medications were prescribed, it is like a miracle. They are able to have friends and a productive student, as well as allow their sibling to have some attention at home.
ToddSmith's picture

ToddSmith said:

I believe children should be on the least amount of medication possible. Regular monitoring and conversation with dr. is the key
imorgan1's picture

imorgan1 said:

As a foster parent, I feel like it is my job to stay consistently updated on the hows and whys of medication use and to make sure that I am doing everything in my power to make sure that the child is observed in a unbiased way so that we would have all the details needed to ensure that the child is getting the proper medication for the proper issue.
Jeanne's picture

Jeanne said:

I think medication should be used only after other methods have been tried,and then closely monitored by all involved .We are with them daily and can see the effects more then most professionals who spend very little time with them ,and after a while some kids know how to act in front of the Doctors so they don't see the real problems we may see at home. This is why it's also important for Health Care providers to listen to Foster parent concerns and not just ignore what we have to say about things. Kids are individuals and shouldn't be put into a boxed diagnosis system.
riverreines's picture

riverreines said:

Understand the case history, the dx of the child, meetings with drs and therapists
ERNESTINE's picture


when foster parents are inform we have the upper hand to better educate ourselves to properly care for our kids.
Hwiinpunch's picture

Hwiinpunch said:

It's sad that the children are written off so to speak and just thrown on medication. We just adopted our fd in March this year. When she came to us 2 and a half years ago, the previous foster family had her put on adhd medication. We told the social worker we didn't believe she needed and didn't believe in medicating Children who are just being children. She agreed we took her off the meds and realized that she has trouble with the intake of sugar that caused the so called behaviors that the last family couldn't handle.
shelly_5501's picture

shelly_5501 said:

As the foster parent I am to make sure the child is properly taking their medication and getting evaluated when necessary to see if the medication can be reduce or even taken away if the child gets clearance from the doctor.