Bill Monning and Jim Beall: Better oversight of foster kids’ meds is needed
Psychotropic medications are powerful drugs with the potential to lead to lifelong health complications due to their side effects, such as obesity, tremors or diabetes. If our own children were prescribed powerful medications such as these, we would ask questions, we would want to know what alternatives were available, and we would seek a second opinion from another doctor as to whether these drugs were necessary and safe. Yet, when it comes to California’s foster youth, these questions are not asked.
There is a growing awareness that California’s foster children are being overmedicated. The state auditor released a report Tuesday that concludes “the State and counties have failed to adequately oversee the prescribing of these medications.” The Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown have made significant strides to improve oversight and use of these drugs, but legislation to reduce the likelihood of these drugs being administered in the first place has met strong resistance. We have introduced legislation that would raise the bar when approving the use of psychotropic medications on children in foster care and begin to expand access to mental health services.