Report: NH foster kids ‘overwhelmingly’ given Rx without oversight

NH is among the top states with the highest percentage of foster kids receiving psychotropic drugs.

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CONCORD, NH – According to a report released this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, New Hampshire has one of the highest rates in the nation of foster kids being treated with psychotropic drugs. Almost 1 out of 4 of those children did not receive an appropriate treatment plan.

New Hampshire state law requires that a treatment plan be developed for a child in foster care when they are prescribed psychotropic drugs, which includes an assessment, diagnosis, and an evaluator’s signature, among other requirements. 23 percent of New Hampshire children in foster care on psychotropic medications did not receive this treatment plan. 76 percent of New Hampshire children did not receive some part of this treatment plan.

“Children in foster care have often faced disparate levels of trauma, abuse, or poverty, so are especially in-need of tailored, comprehensive support,” said Becky Whitley, Policy Coordinator of the Children’s Behavioral Health Collaborative. “Proper assessment, treatment planning, and medication monitoring are important safeguards to ensure that children get the medication they need if, and only if, it is deemed clinically necessary.”

Psychotropic medications can be effective treatments for children with mental health disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, PTSD, and anxiety disorders. However, the lack of consistency and continuous oversight of those in the foster care system, among other concerns unique to children in foster care, can lead to inappropriate prescribing of psychotropic medications.

Photo/National Foster Youth Institute

“As the trauma they’ve experienced can lead to overall health and wellness concerns, including behavioral health issues, homelessness, and involvement with the criminal justice system, youth in the child welfare system particularly need the support of a coordinated system of care,” said Traci Fowler, chair of the Children’s Behavioral Health Collaborative. “When children are getting prescribed psychotropic drugs unnecessarily and without treatment plans, they are falling through the cracks. The continued support of a coordinated system of care for children with behavioral health needs will help to ensure we put an end to this practice.”

For the full state-by-state report: https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-15-00380.pdf

The New Hampshire Children’s Behavioral Health Collaborative, currently 60 organizations and hundreds of families, aims to cultivate and sustain an integrated, comprehensive children’s behavioral health system for the Granite State. More information at http://nh4youth.org/.