Tuesday, April 08, 2008

AB2117 requires greater oversight regarding psychotropic drugging of foster children

Committee Clears Evans Bill to Protect Foster Youth
California Political Desk, April 03, 2008.

(SACRAMENTO, CA) The Assembly Human Services Committee has passed a bill authored by Assemblymember Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) that will require the state to establish additional safeguards in the court approval process for prescribing psychotropic drugs to foster youth.

Assembly Bill (AB) 2117 passed with a 7-0 vote and awaits further review in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

"Children in state care have a lot of unmet mental health needs," said Evans. "I have heard horror stories about foster youth routinely being given meds without counseling. This reckless track record must stop."

Sponsored by the Children´s Law Center of Los Angeles, AB 2117:

- Requires health professionals requesting court authorization to administer psychotropic medications to a foster child to conduct an examination of the child and to document the child's medical history;

- Requires juvenile court judges before authorizing the administration of meds to make findings that (1) a child and his/her 's caregiver has been informed in an age and developmentally appropriate manner, about the recommended medications, anticipated benefits, possible side effects and any other recommended treatment, and (2) that the child has been informed of his or her right to request a hearing on the issue;

- Requires that the child be present in court for a hearing on the request to administer psychotropic medications, unless the child waives the right after consulting with counsel.

- Requires the court to ensure that a child who receives psychotropic medications also receives concurrent therapy, behavioral intervention or other recommended treatment, and that the effects of the medication are monitored.

- Requires the child welfare agency to report in all subsequent reports to the juvenile court on the effectiveness, any side effects and the child's statements about the medication, as well as recommendations by the health provider and the child's progress in treatment and therapy.

"Youth are being prescribed multiple medications at the same time, and having their medications changed frequently and abruptly each time they are moved to a new placement or new mental health care provider," added Evans. "We have little to show that this is helping kids."

In testimony provided before the Blue Ribbon Commission on Foster Care (June 2006) and the Select Committee on Foster Care (September 2006), some youth reported being put on medications when they were as young as 4 or 5 years old and remained on various medications for their entire childhoods. Youth reported experiencing serious side effects – drowsiness, weight gain, insomnia, drooling, facial tics, etc. – and receiving little or no monitoring of the effectiveness of their medications, nor efforts to mitigate side effects. Other foster youth on medication indicated that they did not receive effective therapy and/or behavioral interventions that could have reduced or eliminated the need for medication. Youth also complained that they were not given information about the purpose or potential side effects of their medications, and had no opportunity to participate in decisions regarding their medication and other mental health treatment.

Further information about AB 2117 is available online at www.leginfo.ca.gov

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home