More than 30 percent of foster children who were prescribed psychiatric drugs didn't receive a proper medical plan or follow-up monitoring, according to the federal government.
A new report from the Health and Human Services inspector general surveyed hundreds of sample cases from five states with the highest number of foster kids treated with psychotropic medicine.
The watchdog says the states only "partially" complied with their own medical treatment and monitoring guidelines, and some didn't include professional protocols to protect children in those situations.
The drugs in question include medication for anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders. They can have potentially serious side effects, which is why the IG notes supervision while on these medications is necessary.
According to the report, up to 80 percent of children go into the foster care system with existing mental health issues. In 2012, almost 30 percent of foster kids were taking at least one psychotropic medication.
The watchdog also recommends some improvements to the system. One is creating a strategy to help states meet treatment and monitoring requirements. The other is strengthening those requirements, ensuring foster kids' medical care is overseen on a case-by-case basis.