California Welfare and Institutions Code
The Legislature finds and declares the following: (a) The Legislature has declared its intent to provide, at the local level, a range of appropriate mental health services for seriously emotionally disturbed minors. These programs include both outpatient and nonsecure residential care and treatment.
(b) The Legislature recognizes that, while some minors will benefit from this care and treatment, there exists a population within that group who have been adjudged wards of the juvenile court pursuant to Section 602 who are seriously emotionally disturbed, and by lack of behavior control and offense history, are not benefiting from existing programs, including the 24-hour facilities currently being operated under juvenile court law (Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 200) of Part 1 of Division 2).
(c) The Legislature finds that there are no treatment facilities specifically designed and operated to provide both intensive mental health treatment and behavior control to this population of wards in a secure setting. These wards are frequent failures in open residential care and when confined to traditional juvenile justice system facilities, disrupt programming, endanger themselves and others, and require intensive supervision including occasional isolation and provision of a one-to-one supervision ratio. The behavior and needs of this population affect the ability of the existing facilities to meet the program needs of the remainder of the population which is more appropriately detained or committed there.
(d) Psychiatric hospitals frequently refuse to accept these wards because of their offense history or their extremely disruptive behavior, because they do not always meet medical necessity for acute admission, or because the lengths of stay in inpatient programs are too limited in duration. Because of these problems, seriously emotionally disturbed minors adjudged to be wards pursuant to Section 602 do not receive the level of mental health care necessary to interrupt the cycle of emotional disturbance leading to assaultive or self-destructive behavior.
(e) The Legislature therefore declares its intent to establish regional facilities which will provide an additional dispositional resource to the juvenile justice system, and which will demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of providing the services described in this chapter to seriously emotionally disturbed minors who have been adjudged wards of the juvenile court pursuant to Section 602 and whose physical and mental treatment needs require a secure facility and program. It is also the intent of the Legislature to secure for the minors committed to such a facility, the protection, custody, care, treatment, and guidance that is consistent with the purpose of the juvenile court law (Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 200) of Part 1 of Division 2).
There may be established, on a regional basis, secure facilities which are physically and programmatically designed for the commitment and ongoing treatment of seriously emotionally disturbed minors who have been adjudged wards of the juvenile court pursuant to Section 602. No minor shall be committed to the facility for more than 18 months from the date of admission.
A board of directors for a facility shall be established to provide oversight and direction to the design, implementation, and operation of the facility in order to ensure adherence to the statement of legislative intent in Section 5590 and to the overall goals and objectives of the facility.
(a) The board of directors shall be composed of the chief probation officer and the local mental health directors of each of the participating counties.
(b) The regional facilities shall operate under the administration of the onsite director who shall be directly responsible to the board of directors for adherence to all policies and procedures established by the board and to the intent of the Legislature stated in Section 5695.
Prior to the opening of any regional facility, the board of directors shall develop written admission criteria, approved by the Department of the Youth Authority, for those minors who are most at risk of entering the adult criminal justice system as emotionally disordered offenders at high risk of committing predatory and violent crimes, including, but not limited to, the following requirements:
(a) The minor is at the time of commitment between the ages of 12 and 18 years, he or she has been adjudged to be a ward of the juvenile court pursuant to Section 602, and his or her custody has been placed under the supervision of a probation officer pursuant to Section 727.
(b) The ward is seriously emotionally disturbed as is evidenced by a diagnosis from the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and evidences behavior inappropriate to the ward's age according to expected developmental norms. Additionally, all of the following must be present:
(1) The behavior presents a danger to the community or self and requires intensive supervision and treatment, but the ward is not amenable to other private or public residential treatment programs because his or her behavior requires a secure setting.
(2) The symptomology is both severe and frequent.
(3) The inappropriate behavior is persistent.
No ward shall be admitted to any regional facility described in this chapter who meets any of the following criteria:
(a) The ward has a primary substance abuse problem.
(b) The ward has a primary developmental disability.
(c) The ward requires an acute psychiatric hospital setting.
(d) The ward can benefit from or requires a level of treatment or confinement not provided at the facility.
(e) The ward suffers from a medical condition which requires ongoing nursing and medical care, beyond the level that the program can provide.
(f) The ward is under conservatorship established pursuant to Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 5350) of this part.
Prior to the opening of a facility, the board of directors shall establish written program standards and policies and procedures, approved by the Department of the Youth Authority that address and include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) A staffing number and pattern that meets the special behavior, supervision, treatment, health, and educational needs of the population described in this chapter. Staff shall be qualified to provide intensive treatment and services and shall include, at a minimum:
(1) A project or clinical director, a psychiatrist or, psychologist, a social worker, a registered nurse, and a recreation or occupational therapist.
(2) A pediatrician, a dentist, and a licensed marriage and family therapist, on an as-needed basis.
(3) Educational staff in sufficient number and with the qualifications needed to meet the population served.
(4) Child care staff in sufficient numbers and with the qualifications needed to meet the special needs of the population.
(b) Programming to meet the needs of all wards admitted, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Physical examinations on admission and ongoing health care.
(2) Appropriate and closely monitored use of all behavioral management techniques.
(3) The establishment of written, individual treatment and educational plans and goals for each ward within 10 days of admission and which are updated at least quarterly.
(4) Written discharge planning that addresses each ward's continued treatment, educational, and supervision needs.
(5) Regular, written progress records regarding the care and treatment of each ward.
(6) Regular and structured treatment of all wards, including, but not limited to, individual, group and family therapy, psychological testing, medication, and occupational, or recreational therapy.
(7) Access to neurological testing and laboratory work as needed.
(8) The opportunity for regular family contact and involvement.
(9) A periodic review of the continued need for treatment within the facility.
(10) Educational programming, including special education as needed.
Wards shall be referred for admission to the director of a regional facility following screening and approval through a joint mental health and probation screening committee in the county which refers the minor. This screening process shall be defined in the standards, policies, and procedures governing the operation of the facility. The probation officer shall, in consultation and cooperation with the county mental health staff, process the ward's admission to the facility and implement the discharge plan.
The regional board of directors shall contract with the county in which the regional facility is located for the provision of a public education program which will meet the educational requirements and needs of the wards admitted to the facility.
The board of directors of a regional facility shall submit to the Director of the Youth Authority, a report which includes, at a minimum, a description of the regional facility, the population to be served, criteria for admission and release, program goals and services, staffing, a postrelease component, appropriate educational programming, an annual evaluation component, and a proposed budget.
The Director of the Youth Authority, in conjunction with the Director of Mental Health, shall adopt rules and regulations to establish, monitor, and enforce minimum standards for regional facilities.