A. Medical Consenter

Tex. Fam. Code § 266.004(h) requires medical consenter training, which must include training related to informed consent for the administration of psychotropic medication and the appropriate use of psychosocial therapies, behavior strategies, and other non-pharmacological interventions that should be considered before or concurrently with the administration of psychotropic medications. Tex. Fam. Code § 266.004(h-1).

Each person required to complete a training program under Tex. Fam. Code § 266.004(h) must acknowledge in writing that the person:

The DFPS Medical Consent Training for Caregivers is available online, and estimated two and half hours to complete.[188]

DFPS also has a two-hour online Psychotropic Medication Training for DFPS staff, foster parents and residential providers, relative caregivers, and youth medical consenters.[189]

1. Informed Consent

Although the term “informed consent” as it relates to medical care for a child in foster care is not defined in Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 266, the Texas Legislature has defined consent for psychotropic medication. Consent to the administration of a psychotropic medication is valid only if:

•   The consent is given voluntarily and without undue influence;

•   The person authorized by law to consent for the foster child receives verbally or in writing information that provides:

The Parameters describe what is meant by informed consent by stating that consent to medical treatment in non-emergency situations must be informed consent, which includes discussing the following with the prescribing doctor/psychiatrist before consenting:

•   A DSM-5 (or current edition) psychiatric diagnosis for which the medication is being prescribed;

•   Target symptoms;

•   Treatment goals (expected benefits);

•   Risks of treatment, including common side effects, laboratory finding, and uncommon but potentially severe adverse events;

•   Risks of no treatment;

•   Overall potential benefit to risk of treatment;

•   Alternative treatments available and/or tried;

•   The date the child was first placed in current placement;

•   Child's current weight in pounds; and

•   Child's date of birth, necessary to classify child as a child (age 1-12 years) or as an adolescent (age 13-18 years), because some medications are approved for children but not adolescents and vice versa.

Included in the idea of informed consent is the consideration of alternative treatments and trauma-informed care. The concept of trauma-informed care is a huge paradigm shift for the entire system that will take some time. The Introduction and General Principles Section of the Parameters promote a trauma-informed child and family-serving system where all parties involved recognize and respond to the varying impact of traumatic stress on those who have contact with the system, including youth, caregivers, and service providers. A robust trauma-informed system would not only screen for trauma exposure and related symptoms, but would also use culturally and linguistically appropriate, evidence-based assessments and treatment.

In 2015, the 84th Texas Legislature added Tex. Fam. Code § 266.012 regarding comprehensive assessments. In Texas, this is the CANS 2.0, described in detail in the “Health Care” chapter. Not later than the 45th day after the date a child enters the conservatorship of DFPS, the child shall receive a developmentally appropriate comprehensive assessment. This statute was updated in 2017 to require any SSCC providing therapeutic foster care services to a child shall ensure the child receives a comprehensive assessment at least once every 90 days. Tex. Fam. Code § 266.012(c). The assessment must include:

•   A screening for trauma; and

•   Interviews with individuals who have knowledge of the child's needs. Tex. Fam. Code § 266.012(a).

Children and youth placed in substitute care ages 3 to 17 years old must receive a Child Assessment of Needs and Strengths 2.0 (CANS) completed as part of their assessment and service planning process within 30 days of removal. The CANS is used to gather information about the strengths and needs of the child and family and used in Service Planning to assist the child and family in reaching their goals.[190] DFPS may consent to health care services ordered or prescribed by a health care provider authorized to order or prescribe health care services regardless of whether services are provided under the medical assistance program under Tex. Hum. Res. Code Chapter 32, if DFPS otherwise has the authority under Tex. Fam. Code § 266.004 to consent to health care services. Tex. Fam. Code § 266.004(k).

2. Monitoring Use of Psychotropic Drug

The Medical Consenter shall ensure that the child has been seen by the prescribing physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice nurse at least once every 90 days to allow the physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice nurse to:

•   Appropriately monitor the side effects of the medication; and

•   Determine whether: