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Medication safety is an important concern for foster homes! Every medicine cabinet holds ibuprofen, acetaminophen, cough syrup, antacids, and more. Medications are so common that we often forget about their dangers.

Regardless of whether or not your foster child is taking prescription, psychotropic, or other over-the-counter medications, this information is for you. The guidelines listed here will help you provide a safe environment for all of the children in your home.

What do I need to know about my foster child’s medications?

It’s important to know as much as you can about any medication that your child is taking.

You should ask your child’s doctor questions about the proper use of the medication. The best questions to ask are:

I’ve never had to lock up medications before. Why should I do it now?

Keeping all medications locked up and away from children is critical in preventing death or serious injury. In 1998, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that 91,621 children were harmed and 31 died as a result of medication overdoses.

Medications should be locked up and kept out of the reach of children and given only under adult supervision. These two rules will create a safe home for all of the children in your care.

Do I have to make sure my foster child took the medication?

Yes, children have been known to hide, give away, or even sell their medications. To make sure your child takes his or her medication, follow these easy steps:

  1. Give the child a glass of water to take with the medication.
  2. Watch the child take the medication and drink the water.
  3. Have the child open his or her mouth and lift his or her tongue to make sure the medication was swallowed.
  4. Talk with the child for a few minutes to make sure the medication was swallowed.

Should I keep a log of the medications my foster child is taking?

Yes, it is necessary to document all medications your child is taking. At a minimum, log the date, the name of the medication, and the amount given. In the event that your child gets sick, a doctor will need to know what medications your child has taken, at what times, and how often.

Written records will ensure that you can provide the most accurate and up-to-date information. Ultimately, this helps the child receive the best care possible.

I ran out of my foster child’s prescription. Is it okay if I use medication from another child’s bottle until I can get a refill?

No! It is illegal to give one person’s prescription medications to another person, even if the prescriptions are the same. In addition, substituting medications may cause your child to have a bad reaction and become very ill. If a prescription runs out, get a refill form a 24-hour pharmacy. If it’s not possible to get a refill, contact the child’s doctor immediately for free samples or further instructions.

Is there a problem with giving my foster child more than one medication?

Yes. Certain combinations of medications can be fatal when given together. Over-the-counter medications can be harmful if mixed with certain psychotropic drugs. Even over-the-counter remedies like pain relievers, cough syrup, and antacids can be harmful when mixed together.

Foster parents should always consult a doctor before giving a child more than one medication. Be sure to tell the doctor what other medications the child is taking and whether the child is allergic to any medication.

How often should I follow up with my foster child’s doctor?

Ask the doctor when the child needs to return for a check-up. Some medications need to be monitored closely through regular blood tests. These appointments are important to the youth’s safety and health because the doctor may need to adjust the dose or change the medication. You also should contact the doctor immediately to report any side effects or allergic reactions.


  1. Know as much as you can about your foster child’s medication.
  2. Lock up all medications
  3. Always supervise your foster child while he or she is taking the medication.
  4. Keep a written log of the medications your foster child takes.
  5. Never substitute medications without doctor approval.
  6. Consult your foster child’s doctor as directed.
  7. Follow up with your foster child’s doctor as directed.
  8. Always check with your licensing and other regulating agencies for additional guidelines.