Senate Bills 238, 253, 319, 484, concerning the overuse of prescription medication in foster youth, are being considered by the California Senate Human Services committee.


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“These bills would improve information gathering and monitoring while strengthening regulation of the drugs’ use on children in foster care,” said Lewis Cohen, Director of Communications at the National Center for Youth Law.

It is true that many kids in foster care have a rough childhood. They are often deficient in multiple aspects of what America has deemed make up a normal life. Bad behavior can be a noticeable consequence.

To subdue their negative conduct, many children in foster care are being prescribed psychiatric drugs, often “in the absence of FDA approval of their medications and without solid understandings of the drugs’ effects on children,” said Cohen.

It is an issue that has been in the public’s eye for a while now.

“In 2011, President Obama signed the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act, which requires child welfare agencies to adopt policies for appropriate use and monitoring of psychotropic medications for foster children,” said Cohen.

It has been four years since and California has yet to meet the requirements of the Act.

The following is a summary of the Senate Bills that are being considered.

SB #238

Provide critical drug information to all relevant people involved in the child’s life including social workers and judges. The Department of Health Care Services and the Department of Social Services will have to report their use of psychiatric drugs on fosters kids. It will also devise a system for notifying practitioners about all the dangerous medication combinations that could occur, and provide training for county child welfare agency staff to better care for the kids in their purview.

SB #253

Require prescribers to present compelling evidence before a judge as to why medication is essential to the life of a particular foster child. The bill keeps in mind the notion that medication is only a single component of treating a mental health disorder.

SB #319

Require monitoring of a child’s reaction to medication to determine whether the drug should be continued; and places public health nurses responsible for doing so as well as administering the drugs in the first place.

SB #484

Reduce the use of psychiatric drugs in group homes by implementing a process of investigations and corrective measures in suspicious homes.