Jump to navigation
Children and youth who come to the attention of the child welfare system have disproportionally high rates of emotional and mental health challenges, and are prescribed high rates of psychotropic medications. Nationwide, over 10% of children/youth in foster care take psychotropic medications. In Colorado, 18% received at least one psychotropic medication and 5% took at least two psychotropic medications.
The Colorado Department of Human Services and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing released 2017 Colorado Guidelines for Psychotropic Medication Use for Children and Adolescents in Colorado's Child Welfare System. The new guidelines are intended to provide practitioners practitioners involved in child welfare, particularly those serving a Medicaid population, with best practice and decision making tools for the prescribing of psychotropic medications to children and adolescents.
The 2017 report improves upon the 2013 report by including:
The primary reasoning for the Guidelines is to affirm best practices and guidelines in caring for our foster youth in accordance with federal guidelines, and to highlight the progress occurring in Colorado as we address concerns around psychotropic prescribing. It is based upon the assumption that treatment with psychotropic medication should be used to reduce unwanted mental health symptoms and to restore meaningful quality of life for youth.
Medication should never be used as a punishment, as a condition of placement, as a means to restrain a youth except in emergency situations, or for the convenience of caregivers. Whenever possible, the youth should have a voice in their treatment, and should clearly understand why they are being given a medication. Above all else, medication prescribing should keep youth safety in mind, with constant vigilance for short-term and long-term adverse effects from taking it.