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Protocol for the Admission of Children to Psychiatric Treatment Facilities



1. The judge should wear a robe.


2. The judge should speak to the child and parents and others present.


3. The judge should introduce self and other functionaries who are present.


4. The judge should close the hearing to persons, other than witnesses and those present, with the minor’s consent or at his/her request.


5. The judge should read the file and any written reports.


6. The judge should admit the physician’s report into evidence subject to any sustained objections by attorney(s). Illegible reports should not be admitted.


7. The judge should swear witnesses.


8. The judge should examine witnesses with open-ended questions.


9. The judge should allow for cross examination by attorney(s). (It is the responsibility of the attorney(s) to subpoena any physician or other witness s/he wishes to examine or cross-examine except the legally responsible person, i.e. the parent, social worker, or other custodian. That individual will be subpoenaed by the clerk).


10. The judge should allow for presentation of evidence by respondent.


11. The judge will at his/her discretion allow any CASA or GAL, CASSP case manager, any physician, treatment facility representative or family member not called as a witness, the opportunity to present relevant evidence. The judge is reminded that the GAL’s responsibility is to promote the child’s best interest, whereas the attorney and the CASA promote the child’s expressed interest.


12. The judge will at his/her own initiative, or at the request of the parents or any participant, make a speaker phone call from the court room to the psychiatrist or psychologist for the purpose of receiving more information.


13. The court will consider hearing particularly sensitive testimony without the parent or child being present.


14. The judge should allow for argument by attomey(s).


15. For an admission to be authorized beyond the hearing, the child must be:

a) mentally ill or a substance abuser, and

b) in need of further treatment at the 24-hour facility to which s/he has been admitted. Further treatment at the admitting facility should be undertaken only when lesser measures will be insufficient.


16. The court will consider whether lesser measures will be sufficient, e.g., family therapy, individual therapy, an outpatient or day treatment program, Youth Services Bureau, The Relatives In-Home Counseling Program, Family Preservation, Family Outreach, or any other program or service that will allow the child’s treatment needs to be met without the need for secure confinement in a residential treatment facility.


17. Where it appears that lesser measures than hospitalization will be sufficient, the court may choose to release the child and direct that such lesser measures be utilized by the family.


18. If the judge believes that lesser measures might be sufficient, s/he may make a referral to CASSP.


19. The court will make one of the following dispositions:

a) If the court finds by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that the requirements of subsection (f) have been met, the court will concur with the voluntary admission and set the length of the authorized admission of the child for a period not to exceed 90 days; or

b) If the court determines that there exist reasonable grounds to believe that the requirements of subsection (f) have been met, but that additional diagnosis and evaluation is needed before the court can concur in the admission, the court will make a one time authorization for a stay of up to 15 additional days, during which time further diagnosis and evaluation shall be conducted; or

c) If the court determines that the conditions for concurrence or continued diagnosis and evaluation have not been met, the judge will order that the child be released.

20. The judge should prepare the order legibly.


21. Orders authorizing continued treatment need to find facts sufficient to support the requisite conclusions that the respondent is mentally ill or a substance abuser in need of further treatment at the particular treatment facility to which s/he is admitted, and that lesser measures will be insufficient.


22. The judge will not complete the form order during the hearing because doing so may create the perception that the outcome is already determined regardless of what may be said.


23. It is upsetting to some children to hear themselves described as mentally in. It is therefore suggested that the judge avoid using the term and speak instead of whether the child meets the criteria for continued treatment at a particular facility, and explain further that this does not necessarily mean that the child will be hospitalized for that length of time, only that s/he cannot be held beyond that time without another hearing.


24. The judge’s orders directing additional diagnosis and evaluation should specify, to the greatest extent possible, what additional information is needed.


25. The judge’s orders continuing a case or directing dismissal of the petition will be sufficiently detailed to apprise the parents, facility, and physicians of the basis for continuance or dismissal.



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