National Center for Youth Law


Reducing the Over-Medication of Children and Youth in Foster Care

California foster children are being prescribed dangerous and unnecessary doses of psychotropic medications. Often the drugs are used as chemical restraints, rather than for medically accepted purposes. Over-medicated children face serious, life-long damage to their health, including morbid obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular damage.

Foster youth have complex histories of trauma and need effective mental health services to help them heal. This campaign seeks to ensure that children in California’s care – foster youth and youth under probation supervision – receive trauma-informed mental health services rather than unnecessary and harmful psychotropic drugs.

NCYL developed legislation and led advocacy efforts that resulted in laws being adopted, collectively aimed at ensuring California foster youth are only prescribed psychotropic medications when absolutely necessary, and that they are offered mental health services that include non-drug treatments. NCYL is now working to ensure California’s public agencies have the guidance, data sharing, resources, and training to implement these laws effectively.

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