Children and youth in foster care deserve our best efforts to make sure they grow up healthy and safe. Questions about medications for children in foster care have been raised on a national level, as well as in Massachusetts. Governor Patrick’s administration has been working on this matter for several years and on several fronts. MassHealth, the Department of Mental Health, and health care providers have collaborated to look at the use of multiple medications in young children and have seen a significant reduction in medication use since this effort began. The Child Advocate has been active in advancing this issue in Massachusetts by convening the Rogers Working Group, making recommendations to the Secretary of EOHHS, and co-chairing with the Commissioner of DCF the newly-formed steering committee that will develop the Massachusetts plan for authorization and oversight of psychotropic medications for children in state custody.
Our emphasis should be on an overall behavioral health care plan for each individual child in foster care. In some cases, that may include medication. The Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative has also created new services based in the community to help children and families struggling with behavioral health problems, including in-home therapy, mobile crisis teams, and intensive care coordination. In Massachusetts we are committed to providing a high level of health care, including behavioral health care, for children in foster care.
At the same time the work in Massachusetts advanced, national attention increased on the issue of foster children and psychotropic medication, resulting in new federal direction and oversight. Most recently, the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) held a two-day summit in late August 2012 with teams from all fifty states to collaborate around the development of state plans. The Child Advocate attended the August 2012 summit as part of the Massachusetts team.
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