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Agency Advocacy

Agency Advocacy

Creating a Comprehensive Home Visitation System in Georgia to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect and Improve Health Outcomes for Young Children from Birth to Five

Under the recently passed federal health care reform, there is now federal money to increase funding for home visitation programs.  Delivering these services requires a state infrastructure that does not currently exist in Georgia.  The Barton Center is working with the Home Visitation Working Group of the Birth to Five Coalition to develop strategies to maximize the impact of these dollars, particularly with regard to promoting child health and well-being through the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Psychotropic Medicine Oversight

Children in the foster care system are more likely than other children to need and receive mental health services, in part because of the abuse and neglect they have suffered. Children enrolled in Medicaid are more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medication than children with private insurance, and children in foster care are more than three times as likely as other children with Medicaid to be prescribed psychotropic medication. A recent study published in Pediatrics found that over 40% of children in care who receive psychotropic drugs are prescribed three or more different types of medication, and that “concomitant psychotropic medication treatment is frequent for youth in foster care and lacks substantive evidence as to its effectiveness and safety.”

Georgia is responsible for the safety and well-being of the children in its care and, therefore, has a special duty to ensure that foster children are only being medicated when it is truly necessary and that their medications are carefully monitored to avoid unhealthy side effects or drug interactions. Though Georgia’s juvenile courts provide excellent oversight in most areas, judges lack the medical expertise to determine the appropriateness of a child’s mental health treatment.

Other states that have addressed this issue provide useful models for how Georgia can fulfill its duty to ensure children in foster care are only prescribed medication when absolutely necessary. The most common approach is to provide for independent review of the medications a child is given by a licensed physician experienced with psychotropic medications at the request of the juvenile court or one of the other parties to the civil abuse and neglect proceedings. Georgia needs to create a mechanism for independent review of foster children’s medication in order to promote optimal mental and physical health for the children in Georgia’s care.

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Barton Center Comments on Proposed Revisions to Federal Monitoring of Child and Family Services Programs, 45 CFR Parts 1355, 1356 and 1357

The Barton Center works with the Georgia Department of Human Services and with the Federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) on a number of initiatives, including the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR). The ACF is considering revising the CFSR process and asked for public comments on the proposed revisions. The Barton Center's comments are available here.


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