Senator Monning Bill to Protect Foster Youth Passes First Committee

April 21, 2015
(SACRAMENTO, CA)  - Senate Bill (SB) 253, legislation carried by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel), to create a more rigorous process for prescribing psychotropic drugs to foster children, passed out of the Senate Human Services Committee on a 5 to 0 vote today.
“SB 253 will provide the courts with key factors to consider when making the potentially life-changing medical decision to prescribe a foster child psychotropic drugs,” Senator Monning said.  “Too often foster children are prescribed psychotropic drugs without the proper oversight.  There are serious risks associated with the administration of these powerful drugs and there need to be thoughtful guidelines when prescribing to foster children.”
Current law provides no guidance to the courts as to how they should go about deciding to grant or deny an application for the use of psychotropic medication by foster children.  SB 253 will strengthen the juvenile courts’ process for authorizing the use of psychotropic medication by foster children by mandating the use of health care standards by the judiciary.
Provisions of SB 253:  
• Judges must find several specific facts before making a determination to authorize the use of psychotropic medications by foster children.  Their decisions to prescribe psychotropic drugs must be based on clear and convincing evidence.
• Judges must receive a second opinion before prescribing psychotropic drugs in the most extreme cases, such as prescriptions foster children ages 0-5 or the use of multiple antipsychotics.
• Lab tests and other screenings must be completed as a prerequisite for the authorization of psychotropic drugs, as well as follow up monitoring of the effects of the medication to ensure the safety the child.
Nearly one in four children placed in foster care receive powerful psychotropic drugs.  Of all children taking psychotropic medications in California, 52% are given antipsychotics, which have risk factors that can lead to life-long disabilities, such as tremors, obesity, and diabetes.  Forty-eight percent of foster children are given antidepressants that have an FDA black box label warning for use by children.
Contact: Bethany Westfall, (916) 651-4017