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Bill to reduce psychotropic drug prescriptions for foster youth moves past first hurdle

Flickr member: Charles Williams

A bill aimed at reducing the frequency at which foster children are prescribed psychotropic drugs is one step closer to becoming law. 

Nearly one in four children in foster care are prescribed psychotropic drugs. These include anti-depressants, sedatives, and anti-psychotics.

Central Coast Senator Bill Monning (D- Carmel) is the bill's author and said that too often children are prescribed these drugs without proper oversight and that psychotropic drugs can having negative lasting effects.

"They can actually lead to lifelong disabilities including tremors, obesity and obesity leading to diabetes," said Monning.

"About 48 percent of foster children today are given anti-depressants that the Federal Drug Administration has a black box label warning against use by children."  

In addition to other provisions, the bill would require judges to find several specific facts before authorizing the use of these drugs.

Under current law there is no guidance on this for the courts. 

The bill passed 5 - 0 out of the Senate Human Services Committee. SB 253 is one in a three-part series of legislation focused on foster youth and psychotropic medication.