Interagency Meeting Addresses Psychotropic Medication Use in Nation’s Foster Care System

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Earlier this week, more than 300 representatives from 49 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, convened for a two-day meeting and training session titled “Because Minds Matter: Collaborating to Strengthen Management of Psychotropic Medications for Children and Youth in Foster Care.” 

At the event, health and human services agencies gathered to discuss how states could improve conditions for juveniles in foster care, primarily ensuring that prescription drug use among youths was both appropriate and adequately monitored.

Before the meeting, states were required to submit new Child and Family Services Plans (CFSPs) to the Department of Health and Human Services, which detail how the states intend to improve their child welfare systems. In compliance with the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovations Act of 2011, the states were to submit new protocols - referred to as Annual Progress and Services Reports (APSRs) - that outline the monitoring and oversight of psychotropic medications for juveniles in foster care services.

The first APSRs were submitted to the Children’s Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services in June. Among the new protocols established in some states were the use of trauma experts in consultation cases, redeveloped informed consent processes, feedback mechanisms for prescribers seeking information about how their state practices compare with others and the linking of Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (SACWIS) with the Food and Drug Administration website, which allows caseworkers to look up information on the medications juveniles may be prescribed.

After the meeting, several agencies announced follow-up reports this fall. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that they would release an Information Bulleting regarding states’ use of Drug Utilization Review (DUR) programs later this year, while the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced that it would be partnering with the American Institutes of Research and the Center for the Study of Social Policy to organize a meeting next month focusing on improving outcomes for African-American boys in the nation’s foster care system.