The Child as a Whole: A Proposed Model for Addressing Mental and Behavioral Conditions of Foster Care Youth



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Most children who are removed from their biological homes because of abuse or neglect are placed in foster care. The trauma of being separated from the only family they know, and the potentially frequent movements to different foster homes, puts these children at risk for psychological disorders. Physicians are prescribing psychotropic drugs at an alarming rate despite the existence of other alternatives with less harmful effects. Foster parents and other advocates acknowledge that the side effects of these medications, which can include weight gain, diabetes, obesity, hallucinations, and others, may harm these patients in the long run. In this study, I conduct a literature review on the issue of high psychotropic utilization by foster children using research articles, organizational briefs, and government documents from the 1990s to the 2020s. Building on a study by Fisher et al. (2009), I propose a new approach to providing treatment options and holistic health care to foster youth with mental and behavioral health concerns. The proposed model encompasses the use of various points of intervention that may be used simultaneously and includes Mode 1, Trauma-Informed Screening, Mode 2, Assessing and Encouraging Opportunities for Stability and Normalcy, and Mode 3, Recommending Specialized Treatments. The intended use of this model is to serve as a physician guide during patient consultations to resolve issues in unbalanced and/or uninformed decision-making. To ensure that this approach is effective at improving foster population health, policymakers and leaders in medicine should consider embedding integrated foster health services within clinical settings, thus granting foster families access to the resources outlined in the model.


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