The overprescription of children and youth is a crisis in the child welfare system. While medications can be useful in treating the symptoms of mental health disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, they also often have substantial side effects. In response to the growing rates of prescription psychotropic medication use within this population, the child welfare system has rapidly expanded its capacity to monitor antipsychotic medications and their side effects. A priority of these policies is to coordinate care between key members of a child’s life, including caseworkers and foster parents. Below, find resources to equip caseworkers and foster parents in supporting children and youth by monitoring psychotropic medications and their side effects.
Child Welfare: Oversight of Psychotropic Medication for Children in Foster Care (PDF - 1,532 KB)
Fernandes-Alcantara, Caldwell, & Stoltzfus (2017)
Congressional Research Service
Discusses the screening and assessment services that may contribute to the overmedication of children and youth involved in the child welfare system.
Guidance on Strategies to Promote Best Practice in Antipsychotic Prescribing for Children and Adolescents (PDF - 2, 790 KB)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2019)
Outlines systems-level strategies that can be implemented into child welfare agency practice that aim to reduce the overprescription of psychotropic medication for children and youth in the child welfare system.
HHS Has Taken Steps to Support States' Oversight of Psychotropic Medications, but Additional Assistance Could Further Collaboration
United States Government Accountability Office (2017)
Describes practices the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) took to support the appropriate use of psychotropic medications, including requiring mental health screenings and implementing guidelines.
Improving the Use of Psychotropic Medication for Children in Foster Care: State Profiles (PDF - 805 KB)
Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc. (2018)
Describes six State protocols that integrated State Medicaid, child welfare, and behavioral health workers onto a team in order to oversee psychotropic prescriptions among child and youth in foster care.
Mental Health Medications
National Institute of Mental Health
Describes different medication classes and their recommended uses to support children, youth, and parents in making decisions about mental health treatment.
Protecting Foster Youth From Unsafely Administered Psychotropic Drugs
American Bar Association
Discusses methods for mitigating the unsafe use of psychotropic medication, as well as nonpharmacological interventions for children and youth in foster care.