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February 2012Vol. 13, No. 1Foster Children and Psychotropic Medications

A joint letter to States from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) outlined plans to strengthen oversight of the use of psychotropic medication with children in foster care. The November 23 letter was sent to each State child welfare director, Medicaid director, and mental health authority and highlighted the overrepresentation of children in foster care using psychotropic medications. While children in foster care represent only 3 percent of children covered by Medicaid, they are prescribed antipsychotic medications at nearly nine times the rate of other children receiving Medicaid.

The letter provided States with background information on the use of psychotropic medication as well as resources for interagency collaboration to strengthen oversight. The three agencies will convene workgroups in 2012 to help States develop action plans to address this issue.

The letter is available on CB's website: (58 KB)

Related Item

In December, Bryan Samuels, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, testified at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing examining the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' guidelines on the use of psychotropic medication for children in foster care. Commissioner Samuels' testimony is available on the Senate subcommittee's website: