Monday, March 21, 2011

Psychotropic Meds for Youth in Foster Care: Who Decides?

Dated January 5, 2011, and authored by the Georgia Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children, this report makes vital recommendations:

  1. Georgia needs to obtain accurate information about psychotropic medications and youth in foster care, including how many youth of what ages are receiving which medications for what purposes and at what costs.
  2. Georgia needs to develop guidelines for the use of psychotropic medications for youth in foster care.
  3. Georgia needs to develop a clear process for obtaining informed consent for the administration of psychotropic medications to youth in foster care. The process needs to be specific about who has authority to consent for a youth in foster care.
  4. Georgia should develop one or more independent clinical teams that include a board-certified child psychiatrist to provide the following services:
    • individual case consultation to the state agency and prescribers;
    • training for those who work with youth in foster care;
    independent review of all prescriptions for psychotropic medications that are written for youth in foster care before the prescription can be filled.
  5. Youth in foster care should have a comprehensive mental health treatment plan that includes consideration of a variety of interventions and treatments that may include medications.
  6. Georgia needs to establish quality assurance mechanisms to continuously improve all systems serving the mental health needs of youth in foster care and to hold all parts of the systems accountable.
  7. The court system should help raise awareness about psychotropic drugs and youth in foster care.
What I like best about this report is how it describes the level of responsibility that the state has for young people in foster care:

"The state of Georgia has the awesome responsibility
of serving as parent for some 7500 children in foster care."

Serving as a parent implies: Knowing what prescriptions have been prescribed, why they have been prescribed, what the side-effects are, what the long-term treatment plan is -- and not hesitating to advocate if the medication appears to be more harmful than helpful.

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