Children in foster care are incredibly vulnerable. Despite intense mental health needs stemming from the maltreatment they have endured, children in care have insufficient access to mental health care and poor outcomes when they do receive care. In addition, children in foster care are prescribed psychotropic medications at much higher rates than their counterparts receiving Medicaid, as well as high rates of polypharmacy, psychotropic medication use in very young children, and doses exceeding recommended levels. Beyond these healthcare disparities is the overarching disempowerment felt by youth in foster care and their caregivers.
Our goal through this project is to better understand and study how to inform, engage, and empower children, caregivers, and advocates in the foster care system in decisions related to the use of psychotropic medications. The project hopes to foster connections with relevant stakeholders, such as former and current foster children and parents, birth parents, child welfare leaders, direct clinical staff, and other community stakeholders to increase community engagement and ensure patient-driven practices. These stakeholders will be well represented within our Local Core Team, tasked with facilitating “think-tank” meetings and hosting a regional summit to generate the most pressing concerns, needs, outreach plans, and research ideas to improve practices and decision making at the point of clinical care. Meanwhile, the National Advisory Team will govern the project to ensure efficacy and applicability of research ideas to patient-driven care.