Foster Care

Training and Data Sharing for Public Agencies (2015)

SB 238 (Mitchell)
The goal of this legislation is to develop and review data, to develop a system of alerts, to update court processes and forms, and to improve training for county workers and others who work directly with children for cases in which psychotropic medications and/or antidepressants are being prescribed for foster youth.

Child Welfare Services Social Workers rely on experts in the field of Behavioral Health to diagnose and recommend treatment for children who may be exhibiting behaviors symptomatic of mental illness. Prescribed treatment may include cognitive therapy or other therapeutic approaches, but may also include psychotropic and antidepressant drugs. Sometimes, this regimen of drug treatment includes multiple prescriptions that may interact negatively, and also may include prescriptions at dosage levels that are inappropriate for the age, weight and developmental stage of the child or youth.

Because CWS social workers are not behavior or medical experts, however, they are not able to consider the propriety of such treatments. Additionally, data is not readily available to the social workers regarding the actual medications being taken, rather than just those that are prescribed. Finally, it is important to ensure that the observations of youth and caregivers, as well as social workers, are taken into account in managing the medication process.