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Ensuring Appropriate Psychotropic Medication Usage for Children in Foster Care

February 5, 2012 Comments off

Ensuring Appropriate Psychotropic Medication Usage for Children in Foster Care (PDF)
source: Texans Care for Children

Often, children coming into the foster care system have been exposed to poverty, substance abuse, inadequate healthcare, family violence, and other factors that impact their social and emotional development. Such exposure and maltreatment can have a direct impact on the brain development of the children entering foster care. i Placement in foster care itself is associated with increased stress levels in children, many of whom struggle to manage their emotions and social behavior. Many times, those working with foster children interpret such behavior as a sign of severe mental health disorders. This leads to the prescription and administration of psychotropic medications, ii which are drugs that affect mood, behavior, or mental functioning. The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in late 2011 that children in foster care in Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, and Texas were prescribed psychotropic medications 2.7 to 4.5 times more often than children who were not in foster care, with children in the Texas foster care system being the most likely to receive these medications. iii Similarly, a recent lawsuit, brought by the New York‐based organization Children’s Rights, alleges that Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) inappropriately places children in its permanent managing conservatorship on psychotropic medications that further damage their odds of and put them at risk of never finding a permanent home. iv Texas can do a better job of ensuring children and youth in foster care receive the care they need to improve their overall well‐being and recover from the experiences that led them into foster care in the first place.

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