Children in foster care often have a history of trauma and mental illness. Along with therapy, psychotropic medications are commonly used to manage mental health disorders. However, recent research suggests medication is often overprescribed to foster children. Without a clear understanding of a child’s past trauma and current mental health issues, the root of the problem is overlooked and medication is overly used to manage behaviors and not treat the illness. The American Bar Association recommends stricter regulations for the prescription of psychotropic medications to children in foster care. The ABA recommends that advocates speak to the child about their experiences in order to more comprehensively represent their needs and feelings. To support a child’s mental health it’s important to maintain a solid understanding of the drawbacks and the benefits of the medication and discuss them with the child in conjunction with the prescribing physician and other team members. It’s also recommended that more thorough medical history and psychiatric evaluation be conducted prior to beginning pharmacotherapy.
Psychotropic Medication and Children in Foster Care: Tips for Advocates and Judges, by JoAnne Solchany, is available http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/child_law/PsychMed.authcheckdam.pdfhere on the ABA website.
You can also view the Use of Psychotropic’s among Children in Foster Care Webinar Series here.
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