Psychotropic Medication

What is psychotropic medication?

Psychotropic Medication is medicine to help improve your mood, mental health, and behaviors related to a mental health condition. Psychotropic medicine affects your mind, emotions, and/or behavior. Many people who take psychotropic medications report the medicine helps improve their lives, but it is also important to be informed about side effects (both short term and long term), your rights regarding being on medication while in foster care, and what to do if the medications are not working for you or if you do not want to be on them. It is important to talk to your doctor if you are having any problems with your medication.

What does the doctor have to explain to me about the medication?

The doctor must fully explain to you everything about the medication they are prescribing. They must tell you:

  • The name of the medication
  • The reason for the medication
  • The signs or symptoms you should report to your caregiver
  • Alternative (other) treatment options
  • An explanation of the reason for the treatment
  • How to take the medication
  • Side effects
  • Drug interactions with the medication
  • Possible side effects of stopping the medication
  • How treatment will be monitored
  • The doctor’s plan to reduce or stop the medicine

What if I tell the doctor I don’t want to be on the medication?

The doctor must note in your medical report if you do not wish to take the medication. If you do not agree to take the medication, you will be appointed an attorney.

A picture of an adorable blue cartoon pit bull named Scrappy.

SCRAPPY TIP: If you don’t have an attorney, be sure to let the judge know that you need one.


How do I get an attorney?

If you decline to take medication or do not assent, DCF must request you to have an attorney and the judge must appoint you one.

What will my attorney help me with?

Your attorney must provide you with a complete range of legal services.This means that you will have an attorney to help you through your entire case involving your placement in foster care. If you do not wish to take medication a doctor prescribed you, your attorney must fight for your position in court.

When would I need to take psychotropic medications?

DCF must ask the court to order or your parent to agree for you to start or continue taking psychotropic medications. If the doctor or psychiatric nurse who is treating you believes that waiting to provide treatment could cause you serious harm, they can begin you on the medication without consent from a parent or a court order. In this case, DCF must ask for a court order within three days and must have a reason from your doctor that waiting to give you the medication would more likely than not cause you serious harm. DCF must also give the court the doctor’s medical report. A hearing must happen within 30 days if there are no objections and within 7 days if any party objects to the medications. You have a right to attend all hearings in your case, so you can go to court to make sure the judge knows if you want to take the medication.

Does my age matter?

Children cannot consent (or agree) to psychotropic medication, but if you are 13 years or older you have some extra rights such as you have the right to get services like therapy and group therapy, and some evaluations.

What if I don’t agree with my doctor or want another opinion?

A motion can be filed by your attorney to get a second opinion. If the judge grants the motion, the case manager must make an appointment within one day after the court orders it. Then, the case manager has 21 days to get the second opinion from a new doctor.

Do my health records need to be in my treatment plan?

Your health records must be part of your care plan and must be provided to you within a timely manner by your case manager.

Who will give me my medications?

Your caregiver must give you your medication and keep logs of when they give you your medication. If you are in a group home a staff member should give you your medication and also keep a log of this.

Giving consent for taking psychotropic medications means an adult is making the decision that you should take the medication the doctor prescribes to you. A protective investigator, case manager, caregiver, or staff from a Residential Treatment center or group home can never provide consent for you to be given psychotropic medication. Family members, such as step-parents, grandparents, adult siblings, or aunts and uncles also cannot consent to you taking psychotropic medications. A parent can consent for you to be given psychotropic medications if their rights have not been terminated. Without consent from a parent or an emergency situation, a court order is needed for you to be given psychotropic medications.

Does my caregiver need to come with me to medical appointments about my medications?

Your caregiver’s schedule must be thought about when making appointments for your medications. Your caregiver must try to attend your medical appointments with you. Your caregiver must also get information about your medications, possible side effects, and provide your information to the doctor as needed. If your caregiver cannot come with you to appointments, then your case manager must go with you. If you are in a group home, a staff member will be your caregiver.

The Law

Fla. Admin. Code 65C-35.001, 35.002, 35.004, 35.005, 35.007, 35.011, 35.012 Fla. Stat. sec. 39.01305, 39.407, 394.4784, 743.0645, Fla. R. Juv. P. 8.231

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