4541. Psychotropic Medication Management

Purpose and Scope

  1. This standard and procedure establishes guidelines for Children's Administration (CA) staff and CA-licensed or certified out-of-home care providers to follow when a child is in the custody of the department, placed in out-of-home care, and is or may be administered psychotropic medication.
  2. This standard applies to children placed in the department's custody, whether by voluntary placement agreement (VPA) or court order. It is prospective only. It applies only to children not receiving such medications on the effective date of this policy, June 1, 1997.


  1. For definitions of “Medical History,” “PRN,” and “Psychotropic Medication” as they pertain to this section, see Appendix A.
  2. “Informed consent” means consent given for administration of psychotropic medications by a person authorized by law or under this section following provision of information by a licensed medical professional regarding the purposes of the medication, the range of dosages, possible side effects, and expected results.


  1. The CA social worker and the out-of-home care provider must comply with the provisions of RCW 13.34.060 regarding authorization of routine medical and dental care for the child in the custody of CA.
  2. For children who have been prescribed psychotropic medication, compliance with Chapter 71.34 RCW, Mental Health Services for Minors, is required.
  3. Neither the CA social worker nor the out-of-home care provider may authorize the administration of psychotropic medications to a child in the custody of CA, with the following exceptions:
    1. The CA social worker may authorize the administration of such medications if the child is legally free and in the permanent custody of the department.
    2. The CA social worker may authorize the administration of such medications when it is impossible to obtain informed parental consent after normal work hours, on weekends, or on holidays. In such instances, the social worker must obtain either informed parental consent or a court order within 72 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, of authorizing administration of the medication.
  4. The parent of the child in CA custody must provide informed consent for the administration of psychotropic medications to the child, unless the child is age 13 or older and competent to provide consent in his or her own behalf. If the parent is unavailable, unable, or unwilling to consent to the administration of medically necessary psychotropic medications, the social worker shall obtain a court order before the medications may be administered.
  5. Consent for treatment will vary according to the child's age.
    1. Children age 13 years and older must consent to the administration of their own medication. They also have the right to maintain confidentiality of the information.
      1. The CA social worker needs to encourage the adolescent to share information about the use of such medication with their parents, their out-of-home care provider, and their guardian ad litem. The care of the child is likely to be compromised if the out-of-home care provider does not have knowledge of the medication being used and access to the prescribing physician for consultation.
      2. If the child refuses to release information concerning medication to the out-of-home care provider, the CA social worker shall review the child's continued need for placement. If the child remains in out-of-home care and continues to refuse to release information about his/her medication, the social worker will request the court to order release of the information to the care provider and to the department.
      3. If the child refuses to release information to the parent, the parent, if wanting the information, needs to request a court order to obtain it.
    2. Children who are 13 years of age and older may not be able to provide knowledgeable consent to administration of psychotropic medication due to cognitive disabilities. In such an instance, the treating medical professional determines if the child is capable of giving consent. If the child is unable to provide consent, the parent must provide consent or the social worker must obtain a court order to authorize treatment.
  6. The informed parental consent or court order needs to be a general authorization for the administration of psychotropic medications at the direction of a qualified, licensed physician so that a change in the consent or court order is unnecessary when it is necessary for the physician to adjust the medication.
  7. The social worker may contact the statewide Child Abuse Consultation Network at 1-206-987-2194 or after hours at 1-206-987-2000 whenever medication management would be facilitated by expert medical consultation. For consultation with a pharmacist on prescribed or non-prescribed medications, the CA social worker, the foster parent, or other care provider may contact the Washington Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. Department staff needs to identify himself or herself as a CA social worker, and ask to speak to the pharmacist on duty.