Comprehensive clinical assessments (CCA’s) are frequently completed—and sometimes required—prior to ordering a disposition in a delinquency matter. G.S. 7B-2502(a2). You can find more information about when the statutory requirement is triggered in a previous blog. CCA’s contain information about the juvenile’s mental health and they may also contain information about substance use disorder treatment. These kinds of information are covered by federal confidentiality laws that are not specifically addressed by the Juvenile Code. While the federal laws generally prohibit disclosure absent a valid patient authorization, courts can order disclosure after following the required procedure and making certain findings. The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) recently released new and revised forms that are structured to provide the court access to CCA’s while complying with the requirements of federal confidentiality laws. This post explains why and how to use the new and revised forms.
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.
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?