Foster youth and psychotropic treatment: Where next?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Foster care children are prescribed psychotropic medications at rates significantly higher than same-aged peers. Concerns about the safety of psychoactive chemicals on developing bodies and potential misuses with foster care populations have led to varied and complex responses by the media, lawmakers, and researchers. First, we look at how foster youth are prescribed psychoactive substances, including polypharmacy (sometimes called concomitant prescription), and at the mounting and major responses by federal and state governments. Second, we consider a recent parameter published by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Third, we consider how foster care settings, what we call open systems, complicate parameter implementation, creating potential gaps among researcher, prescriber, foster caregivers, and youth medication explanatory models of treatment experience. And finally, to address gaps among researcher, prescriber, and patient explanatory models, we propose the use of arbitrage, a conceptual framework and process for the integration of competing and sometimes incommensurable explanatory models, knowledge and practice claims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-404
Number of pages10
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Explanatory models
  • Foster care
  • Practice arbitrage
  • Psychotropic medication
  • Treatment parameter illness behavior


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