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The REACH Institute: Best Practice Guidelines Address Mental Health Needs of Youth in Care
Date:3/9/2009

A) national advocacy conference in Washington, D.C. and endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association, the National Foster Care Coalition, the Carter Center Mental Health Program and other national organizations.

The guidelines emphasize the need to carefully monitor psychotropic medication use patterns in the foster care system. Studies show that rates of medication use for children in child welfare range from 13 to 37 percent, compared to 4 percent for youth in the general population.

Also stressed are guidelines for engaging parents and youth more fully in child welfare and mental health services. Included are recommendations for (a) developing Peer Family Mentors to advocate with and assist families in seeking care, and (b) embedding youth empowerment into the mission of child welfare agencies to ensure that youth in care have opportunities to enhance their functioning in multiple areas.

"This is important guidance for the field of child welfare to better meet the needs of the children and youth it serves. We are happy to be part of this initiative and are excited that it was published in a special issue of CWLA's signature journal Child Welfare," said Christine James-Brown, president and CEO of CWLA.

With support from Casey Family Programs and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Reach Institute, in October 2007 convened 80 experts in the fields of child welfare and mental health policy, including parents and youth advocates, to examine ways to improve the identification, assessment and treatment of children with these need. This ground-breaking effort became known as the Best Practices for Mental Health in Child Welfare Consensus Conference from which the guidelines were crafted, refined and finalized.

The new guidelines should give clinicians and agency directors detailed navigation tools to address the mental health and soc
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SOURCE The REACH Institute
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