By Hannah Guzik
In light of investigations that found that foster children are sometimes drugged with too many psychiatric medications, Gov. Jerry Brown signed three bills Tuesday that provide better oversight of medical care for youths in the state’s charge.
The new laws require those who care for foster children to be trained on the risks of medications and give them additional tools to curb over-prescription. The bills, SB 238, 319 and 484, also call on the state to keep better tabs on foster children’s health records and the residential facilities where they receive medicatio
The legislation was proposed after the Bay Area News Group reported last year that almost a quarter of foster children receive psych drugs.
Sometimes medications are warranted, but they should be careful monitored, said Frank Mecca, executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California, a sponsor of SB 238
“When children come into foster care, we become their parents,” he said in a release.
“Everyone involved in the care of these children must have complete information and the right training, so we can ask the right questions and make the best decisions together to ensure the well-being of these children and help them recover from the abuse they have suffered.”
Children in foster care have often experienced severe trauma that warrants behavioral health services, Mecca said
The new legislation will require the caseworkers to have monthly data reports on medication usage and an alert system when dangerous interactions could occur. It also updates the court process and authorization forms to make sure needed information is provided to the cour
Public health nurses working with foster children will also help county social workers review medication requests
Kathy Dresslar, director of Sacramento governmental affairs at The Children’s Partnership, said the laws will allow for an exchange of electronic data on psych prescriptions, allowing caregivers to provide better oversight
The legislation supports “the use of electronic information exchange to ensure that social workers, health professionals, educators, and all adults charged with acting on behalf of these vulnerable youth have more complete, up-to-date information in front of them as they make life-altering decisions on their behalf,” she said in a release.