There is currently a much-needed national spotlight on the high rates of psychotropic medication use among children and youth in foster care, most of whom receive health coverage through Medicaid. This high-risk population is far more likely to receive psychotropic medications, including antipsychotics — a class of medication with serious side effects — than the Medicaid child population overall. While there are certainly some children and youth who should receive these medications, states must have oversight and monitoring mechanisms to determine when this is — or is not — the case.

This Health Affairs blog post highlights key lessons for states in developing psychotropic medication oversight and monitoring programs. Kamala Allen, CHCS vice president for program operations and director of child health quality, draws from the experiences of six states participating in CHCS’ quality improvement collaborative, Improving the Use of Psychotropic Medication among Children and Youth in Foster Care to illustrate how these lessons can be operationalized to improve outcomes for this vulnerable population.

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