National Center for Youth Law

NCYL in the news Press Releases

Governor Signs Legislation to Curb the Misuse of Psychotropic Medications on Children in Foster Care
October 6, 2015

October 6, 2015
Anna Johnson: (510) 899-6567

Sacramento, CA – Governor Jerry Brown has signed three bills sponsored by The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), as part of a package to reduce the misuse of psychotropic drugs on children in foster care. The three bills (SB 238, SB 319, and SB 484) are part of a comprehensive approach to the overmedication of foster youth. A fourth bill SB 253 remains subject to negotiations between the Administration and the bill’s author Senator William Monning.

Specifically, the bills: Provide for training, data collection, and systems for identifying high risk practices; Provide public health nurses increased access to medical records to improve monitoring of foster children prescribed psychotropic medications; and Identify the group homes that are most over-reliant on the riskiest psychotropic medication treatments and require these homes to develop corrective action plans that are monitored for progress.

In 2011, the Federal Government Accounting Office issued a report finding numerous problems in the use of psychotropic drugs on foster children. According to the report nearly one in four children in foster care are receiving powerful psychotropic drugs. Of all children taking psychotropic medications in California 52% are given antipsychotics which have risk factors that can lead to life-long disabilities such as tremors, obesity, and diabetes.

According to NCYL Senior Attorney Bill Grimm, the legislative effort in California is the most comprehensive effort in the United States to date. “The bills signed by the Governor today will improve the handling of psychotropic drugs by everyone involved in the process while increasing the amount of information available to and oversight of prescribers, caregivers and the courts.” Grimm added, “We remain hopeful that the Governor will eventually sign SB 253 in order to strengthen the court process for authorizing the use of these powerful drugs on vulnerable children in foster care.”

“I hope the approval of this legislation tells our foster care youth that we love them, that their lives matter to all of us, and that we care deeply about their future.” Said Senator Jim Beall, author of SB 319 and SB 484, “The system is not perfect but California will keep working to perfect it.’’