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Advocate Tip:  Psychotropic Medications

Advocating for a Child on Psychotropic Medications

In 2012, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission reported that there were 47,888 Texas children in foster care. The Commission’s Update on the Use of Psychotropic Medications in Texas Foster Children states 15,252 of these children were prescribed at least once psychotropic medication. This amounts to nearly 32% of all foster children in the state of Texas. Advocates can have a significant impact on a child’s life by supporting the appropriate use of these medications.

In order to do so, Advocates need to gather information regarding the medication. They should know what the child’s diagnosis is, what the name of the medication is, and what dose has been prescribed. Advocates should also know what symptoms the medication is supposed to be treating and be aware of any side effects a child might experience.

Advocates need to communicate with a number of people involved in the child’s life to obtain this information. They should talk to caregivers about any side effects the medication is having on the child, and if there has been a change in the child’s behaviors. It is also important to know if the child has been prescribed medications in the past. Talking to the child’s parents or other close family members can provide this information. If a child was on medication previously, Advocates should ask what medications the child was prescribed and who prescribed them. It may also be helpful to talk with the child’s teachers and therapists about any changes they have observed. Additionally, include the child in conversations about their medications. Ask the child about any side effects, how the medication makes them feel, and if they feel that the medication is helpful.

When Advocates have concerns about a child’s medication they should talk to the child’s caseworker and explain their concerns. Be sure to tell the caseworker about any reported or observed side effects. Also, provide the caseworker with any information about previously prescribed medications. Advocates can ask that the caseworker request a medication review if one has not been done recently. Finally, any concerns should also be communicated to the child’s attorney.


  1. How many children in foster care were prescribed psychotropic medications in 2012?
  2. True or False: Advocates should not talk to children about their medications.
  3. What should advocates do if they have concerns about a child’s medications?

To receive 1 hour worth of training credit, read the above article and submit answers to the accompanying training questions to Elisabeth Reise at