HHS Taking Steps to Address the Use of Psychotropic Medications in Foster Care

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently sent a letter to all State and Territorial child welfare directors, Medicaid directors, and mental health authorities indicating their increasing concerned about the safe, appropriate, and effective use of psychotropic medications among children in foster care. The letter announces that in the coming months the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will offer opportunities to states to strengthen their systems of prescribing and monitoring psychotropic medication use among children in foster care. The letter highlights the role that medication can play in the treatment of children in foster care, but urges strengthened oversight of psychotropic medication as a necessary means to responsibly and effectively attend to the clinical needs of children who have experienced maltreatment.

This letter also outlines specific steps that ACF, CMS, and SAMHSA are taking to support effective management of prescription medications for children in foster care and encourages state entities responsible for the care of children in foster care to coordinate and partner with others to ensure the strengthen controls for psychotropic medication use among children in foster care.  In June 2012, ACF, CMS, and SAMHSA will convene the State child welfare directors, along with the Medicaid, and mental health authorities to develop action plans for addressing this issue.

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