When Prescribing Psychotropic Drugs for Foster Children, San Bernardino County Has Extra Safeguard in Place

By Steinberg, Jim | Pasadena Star-News, August 23, 2014 | Go to article overview

When Prescribing Psychotropic Drugs for Foster Children, San Bernardino County Has Extra Safeguard in Place


Steinberg, Jim, Pasadena Star-News


SAN BERNARDINO » For more than two years, child psychiatrists employed by the county have been reviewing behavior-altering drugs prescribed for children under the county's foster care program.

These powerful medications - which may cause rapid weight gain, the formation of breast tissue in males, and other undesirable side effects - are reviewed by county child psychiatrists every six months, said Randall Schulz, director of San Bernardino County Children and Family Services.

For children under the age of 8, re-evaluations are done every three months, Schulz said.

A 10-month investigation by this news organization has found that over the last decade nearly one of every four adolescents in California's foster care system received prescribed drugs, or 3 1/ 2 times the rate for all adolescents nationwide.

Nine percent of San Bernardino County's 4,614 foster children are on psychotropic meds, Schultz said.

San Bernardino County's "extraordinary" program, which installs an independent child psychiatrist as a monitor of these medications, involves personnel from Juvenile Court, the county departments of Behavioral Health and Public Health and Children and Family Services, Schulz said.

Dr. Teresa Frausto, medical director for the county Department of Behavioral Health, said that in addition to approving new psychotropic med prescriptions and regularly reviewing them, county child psychiatrists along with ancillary specialists will conduct second opinions on the use of these powerful medications. …

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