Child welfare professionals have specific responsibilities when a Baker Act is initiated on a child or adolescent during an active investigation or while the family is receiving ongoing services, including post placement supervision. The placement of a child or adolescent in a mental health treatment facility for involuntary examination as authorized by a Baker Act or voluntary admission warrants a thorough assessment or re-assessment of child functioning and the caregiver’s ability and/or willingness to manage the child’s emotional or behavioral challenges. In order to assess the significance of the event, determine appropriate interventions and provide the level of support needed, it is essential that child welfare professional receive information from all therapeutic providers.
Upon receiving information that a Baker Act was initiated on a child or child was voluntarily admitted for evaluation, the child welfare professional must contact the treatment facility immediately and request information regarding the child’s discharge status.
Child or Adolescent Discharge Pending
If child has not been discharged from facility, child welfare professional must attend any scheduled discharge planning or multidisciplinary staffing (MDT) on the child and invite any other therapeutic providers working with the child or family such as child or family therapist, behavior analyst, school social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist, etc. The child welfare professional will request these treatment providers review, discuss, and to the extent possible reach consensus on the following issues:
- Factors or circumstances that contributed to or resulted in Baker Act;
- Recommendations to address any child safety, permanency or well-being needs identified; and
- Develop a plan to ensure ongoing therapeutic and placement needs are met.
If the child welfare professional does not agree with any significant recommendations resulting from the MDT staffing or if the team cannot reach consensus developing a plan to ensure the child’s therapeutic or placement needs, the child welfare professional will consult with his or her supervisor and a second level manager within two business days to determine next steps.
Child or Adolescent Has Been Discharged or Staffing Already Conducted
If the child has already been discharged from the facility or the discharge planning conference or MDT staffing was conducted without the child welfare professional, the child welfare professional will:
- Immediately attempt to obtain and review the receiving or treatment facility’s discharge plan and/or MDT staffing notes and any recommendations for aftercare;
- Schedule a follow-up MDT staffing with all therapeutic disciplines working with the child or family, as soon as possible, but no later then 72 hours from the child’s discharge from the treatment facility; and review discuss and to the extent possible, reach consensus on the follow issues:
Ø Factors or circumstances that contributed to or resulted in Baker Act;
Ø Recommendations to address child safety, permanency or well-being needs identified; and
Ø Develop a plan to ensure ongoing therapeutic and placement needs are met.
- For families under court jurisdiction, the child welfare professional will notify the court of the child’s emergency mental health admission.
If the plan to ensure the child or adolescent’s ongoing therapeutic and placement needs differ significantly from any recommendation or discharge planning developed by the treatment facility, the child welfare professional will consult with supervisor and a second level manager within two business days to determine next steps.
Child protective investigators are responsible for initiating the MDT staffing for an active investigation not opened for case management services. Case managers are responsible for initiating the MDT staffing for all ongoing services cases including those with an active investigation (the CPI is required to attend and participate in the staffing)