Wednesday, October 19, 2011

County to examine whether foster children are overmedicated

By Joe Schoenmann

The process of feeding psychotropic drugs to foster children in Clark County will get an overhaul after a vote today by the County Commission to partner with the Nevada School of Medicine and a non-profit mental health agency.

The medical school and Mojave Adult, Child and Family Services will work as consultants to develop policies to monitor "use of psychotropic medication by children in the custody of Clark County Department of Family Services."

Among other things, the agencies are being asked to create policies to create an assessment protocol for:

• children under 4 who are prescribed mental health medications.

• children prescribed three or more mental health drugs.

"In addition," reads a county report, "this program will address emerging concerns nationally that children in foster care are medicated with psychotropic medications three to four times more frequently than children" living with their families. The fear, adds the report, is that these medications "are being used inappropriately for chemical restraint and in lieu of more appropriate non-pharmacologic interventions."

The county's Department of Family Services budgeted $300,455 for the program, which will also include screening medication regimens to make sure they conform with a child's diagnosis and attempt to identify children who will benefit from additional treatment that does not involve drugs.


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