Bills To Increase Oversight of Foster Kids’ Rx Use Sent to Brown
The California Legislature has passed a package of three bills aimed at reducing the amount of psychiatric medication prescribed to children in California's foster care system, sending the measures to Gov. Jerry Brown (D), the Woodland Daily Democrat reports (Seipel/Rogers, Woodland Daily Democrat, 9/12).
Last year, a San Jose Mercury News investigation found that children in the California foster care system are prescribed psychiatric drugs at a rate three times higher than the national average.
Specifically, the investigation found that nearly 25% of California children in foster care have been prescribed psychiatric drugs, including:
- Mood stabilizers; and
In 1999, state lawmakers passed legislation requiring juvenile courts to approve psychiatric drug prescriptions for foster youth and review the decisions every 180 days.
However, the investigation found that the law has "done nothing" to lower such prescribing rates (California Healthline, 9/9).
Details of Bill Package
The three bills sent to Brown were:
- SB 238, by state Sens. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Jim Beall (D-San Jose), which would require the state to provide more data on the number of children in foster care who are prescribed psychotropic drugs, along with other medications that might cause harmful interactions;
- SB 319, by Beall, which would establish a system for public health nurses to monitor and oversee anyone in foster care who is prescribed psychotropic medications; and
- SB 484, by Beall, which would establish treatment protocols and state oversight of psychotropic drugs in group-home settings (Woodland Daily Democrat, 9/12).
A related bill (SB 253) was pulled from the package by its author, state Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel), to smooth out some issues with the Brown administration. SB 253 would have prohibited juvenile courts from authorizing psychotropic drugs without prior medical examination and ongoing monitoring of the child. Monning said he will reintroduce the measure in January 2016 (California Healthline, 9/9).
Beall's Comments on Passage of Bills
In a release, Beall said that SB 319 and SB 484 would "ensure powerful psychotropic drugs do not replace other effective and necessary treatments for children in foster youth group homes," adding, "Drugs should only be the final alternative after all other treatment options, such as therapy and counseling, are exhausted."
In addition, Beall said, "We must never allow the state's most traumatized children to be shackled with chemical restraints simply because it is the most expedient way to control their behavior" (Beall release, 9/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.