September 24, 2018

Psychotropic Medication Oversight for Children in State Custody

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges state, territorial, local and tribal child welfare and juvenile justice agencies to provide adequate resources for assessing and treating emotional and behavioral disorders of children in their custody, including psychosocial and clinical interventions, recreational opportunities and  supportive services that can reduce the need for prescribing psychotropic drugs.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges state, territorial, local and tribal child welfare and juvenile justice agencies to develop comprehensive policies, based on best practice guidelines developed in collaboration with medical professional organizations medical, mental health and disability experts, and other stakeholders designed to facilitate medically appropriate use of psychotropic medications needed by children in the custody of child welfare and juvenile justice systems, while ensuring that medications are not used solely to control behavior. 

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges state, territorial, local and tribal courts to work with medical professional organizations and other stakeholder groups to develop oversight protocols administered by child and adolescent psychiatrists to ensure that these policies are successfully implemented in child welfare and juvenile justice cases under their jurisdiction, and to ensure that medication regimens are evaluated, and, if appropriate, continue without interruption when placement changes occur or when the child is transitioning out of the foster care or juvenile justice systems. 

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges attorneys, judges, bar associations, and law school clinical programs on children’s issues to promote education and to develop technical assistance resources on the rights of children in the custody of child welfare and juvenile justice agencies, including legal issues related to appropriate use of psychotropic medication.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges Congress to enact legislation requiring state, territorial, local and tribal governments to report de-identified data, consistent with children’s privacy rights under federal and state law, to appropriate federal agencies on the ongoing use of psychotropic medication for children in foster care and in the juvenile justice system under their jurisdiction.

Policy Report and Executive Summary