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Research has shown that youth in state care are at high risk for severe emotional and behavioral disturbances. A substantial number of these children and adolescents are receiving psychotropic medications as part of their overall care plan.

As the legal guardian for approximately 16,000 youth in state custody, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is responsible for providing consent for psychiatric treatment for children in their care.

The provision of consent and oversight of treatment for youth in state custody presents a challenge for DCFS:

  • Children in state care can experience frequent placement changes, making longitudinal oversight of a youth’s care more difficult.
  • DCFS does not have the medical knowledge to provide informed consent for the use of psychotropic medications in youth in their care.

In addition to reviewing medication requests, the objectives of the Clinical Services in Psychopharmacology are to:

  • Provide expert consultation on particularly complex cases
  • Notify the DCFS’ Office of the Guardian and Advocacy when providers warrant further review
  • Disseminate information on new pharmaceutical developments and alerts to physicians who serve DCFS wards;
  • Conduct training for DCFS-identified staff in protocols for psychotropic medications management.
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