New OCS policy outlines new measures for oversight and monitoring of psychotropic medications for children in foster care
By Natalie Powers, OCS Program Administrator
A new Office of Children’s Services (OCS) policy (effective March 15, 2013) stresses that psychotropic medications are to be prescribed to children in custody only when absolutely medically necessary in concert with appropriate therapeutic services, are used as time-limited as possible, and are closely medically monitored to reduce side effects or other health impacts.
OCS Regional Psychiatric Nurses will review all psychotropic medication prescriptions and have the ability to consult with a neutral child psychiatrist on any child’s case if they have concerns or if a child meets certain criteria. Children under the age of 5, any child on four or more psychotropic medications or any child receiving two or more atypical psychotropic medications will have additional oversight.
The new policy also reiterates that the prescribing physician or medical staff with assistance from the caseworker must receive from the child’s biological parent and the child (in an age-appropriate way) informed consent prior to administering any non-emergency psychotropic medications. If parental rights have been terminated or the court issues an order giving OCS the authority, then that consent must come directly from the caseworker or supervisor. Foster or relative families are not authorized to consent to these medications.
If you wish to view the new policy (6.3.2 MENTAL HEALTH CARE/ADMINISTRATION AND OVERSIGHT OF PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATION),it may be accessed through the CPS Manual link on the OCS website at: http://dhss.alaska.gov/ocs/Documents/Publications/CPSManual/cps-manual.pdf.