For the past three years, the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) has been working with six states – Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont – in a collaborative to improve the appropriate prescribing of psychotropic medications to children and youth in foster care. Efforts of the participating states include: developing inter-agency partnerships; advancing data-sharing; coordinating oversight and quality assurance processes; and strengthening care coordination.

On October 2, CHCS hosted the final meeting for the collaborative at the headquarters of the Annie E. Casey Foundation – the project’s funder – in Baltimore, Maryland. Participants were joined by JooYeun Chang, associate commissioner of the Children’s Bureau in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF).

Ms. Chang outlined a number of federal initiatives supporting evidence-based approaches to meeting the behavioral health needs of children in foster care. In particular, she highlighted the President’s 2015 budget proposal, which includes provisions for a joint ACF and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services effort to improve child welfare infrastructure and establish provider incentives for enhanced behavioral health treatment for children and youth in foster care. She also referenced ACF’s trauma-focused grants that support states in prioritizing children’s access to evidence-based behavioral health services. Finally, Ms. Chang engaged the states in a dialogue about how the federal government can continue to support and partner with states to promote improved oversight and monitoring of psychotropic medications. She left the group with three overarching recommendations:

  1. Reach a consensus about the barriers and opportunities related to improving behavioral health care for children in foster care.
  2. Ensure access to high-quality data to drive system improvements and dispel myths about psychotropic medications (e.g., that no children truly need psychotropic medications).
  3. Share the efforts of the workgroup and lessons learned to inform federal stakeholders about appropriate clinical treatment for children in foster care.

As CHCS’ three-year collaborative comes to a close, these recommendations will guide state participants’ continuing efforts to promote appropriate psychotropic medication use among children and youth in foster care nationwide. Visit CHCS’ website for an array of Psychotropic Medication Quality Improvement Resources developed through the collaborative.




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