Advocating for the Voice Inside: Helping Assure Safe Prescribing of Psychotropic Medications to Children in Care 19-20
Children and youth who come to the attention of the child welfare system have disproportionately high rates of emotional and mental health challenges and are prescribed high rates of psychotropic medications—more than 10 percent nationwide take psychotropic medications. In Colorado, 18 percent have at least one psychotropic medication and 5 percent have at least two psychotropic medications.
Best practice dictates that medication should never be used as a punishment, as a condition of placement, as a means to restrain a youth except in emergencies, or for the convenience of caregivers. Whenever possible, the youth should have a voice in their treatment and should clearly understand why they are being given a medication. Above all else, medication prescribing should keep youth safety in mind, with constant vigilance for short-term and long-term adverse effects from taking it.
However, in interviews with several dozen child welfare staff, it was found that 55 percent disagreed with the statement “Information is generally shared effectively between mental/behavioral health providers and their partners in the community.” Youth and foster families have also expressed significant concerns around information sharing, revealing frustration with having to answer duplicate questions and wondering where and how their responses will be shared.
Oversight of psychotropic prescribing for children and youth in care is thus a delicate balance between minimizing truly unsafe prescribing patterns and acknowledging the highly complex situations of those in care, in which the risks and benefits of such medications may not be as straightforward as they seem.
This five-session ECHO series brings together the players in this equation—prescribers, caseworkers, supervisors, foster parents—to begin to address these concerns by sharing perspectives, asking each other for what we need, trying out resources, and building the relationships necessary to help assure the safe prescribing of psychotropic medications for children and youth in care.
“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s my supervisor!” exclaim your staff when you walk in each morning. And what is more heroic than building the skills and confidence in your team to deal with child safety and risk every day? Assessing safety and risk is the ultimate purpose of child protective services, and supervisors are the ultimate change agents. In this five-session series, you'll engage with peers and expert panelists from across the state to take your supervision skills to new heights as they relate to
- leveraging protective capacities,
- creating safety plans that really work,
- handling high-risk situations,
- utilizing safety and risk assessments in ongoing casework, and
- documenting the work.
What is your superhuman supervisor strength? What is your kryptonite? Join this learning experience to build your supervisory practice to develop, coach, and manage to safety and risk—and help your team soar!