Tag: mental health
  • Transportation of High-Risk Juveniles in DSS Custody: The New G.S. 7B-905.2

    Children and teens who are in the custody of DSS are (or have been alleged to be) abused, neglected, and/or dependent. While in out-of-home placements, these children experience (1) ongoing separation from their families and communities (e.g., parents, siblings, school), (2) losses (relationships, pets, their home), (3) unpredictability (parent behavior at visits), and (4) uncertainty (placement transitions, caseworker turnover). Not surprisingly, these children have a significantly higher rate (up to 80%) of mental health issues than children who are not involved with child welfare (18-22%).[1] Compounding this situation is the lack of appropriate placements for children in DSS custody.[2] Concerns about DSS safely transporting children in its custody to placements when those children have significant mental health needs has arisen. Addressing transportation concerns, the NC General Assembly in the 2023 Appropriations Act enacted G.S. 7B-905.2: “Transportation of High-Risk Juveniles,” effective retroactively to July 1, 2023. See S.L. 2023-134, sec. 9J.13.

    G.S. 7B-905.2 is limited in scope and should not be relied upon 1) for any and all transportation issues for juveniles in DSS custody or 2) for transporting juveniles who are not in DSS custody but have behavioral issues. This post discusses when G.S. 7B-905.2 applies, what it allows, and what it does not. Continue Reading

  • Juveniles in DSS Custody Presenting at Hospital ED for Mental Health Treatment: New Laws and New Court Hearing Possible

    Perhaps it is not surprising that juveniles who experience abuse, neglect, or dependency have a higher risk of suffering from mental health issues. These children have experienced trauma, and when they are removed from their homes and families, they further experience loss, separation, and disruption. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that “[u[p to 80 percent of children in foster care have significant mental health issues, compared to approximately 18-22 percent of the general population.”* According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “[m]ental and behavioral health is the largest unmet health need for children and teens in foster care.”**

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  • Juvenile Justice Changes in Federal Law

    The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDPA) is the central federal law that establishes core requirements for state juvenile justice systems. 34 USC §111. In return for compliance with these core requirements, the statute authorizes federal funding for states to use in their juvenile justice systems. The JJDPA expired in 2007 and was recently reauthorized in the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018. Public Law No 115-385. The reauthorized statute made several significant amendments to the JJDPA. In this blog post I will discuss three of the highlights: a new focus on evidence-based and promising programs and practices, changes in the disproportionate minority contact core requirement, and new requirements regarding identification and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. Continue Reading

  • Mental Health Evaluations Required Prior to Delinquency Dispositions

    Last week the Court of Appeals breathed new life into a decades-old law that requires district courts to refer juveniles who have been adjudicated delinquent, prior to disposition, to the area mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services director for an interdisciplinary evaluation if any evidence that the juvenile is mentally ill has been presented. This new decision, In the Matter of E.M., __ N.C.App. __ (January 15, 2019), raises many questions like, does it really mean any evidence of mental illness? And does it matter if the juvenile has already received mental health services? And who is the area mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services director anyways? Continue Reading

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