Beginning of Chapter  <<  71.34.010 >>   71.34.020


(1) It is the purpose of this chapter to assure that minors in need of behavioral health care and treatment receive an appropriate continuum of culturally relevant care and treatment, including prevention and early intervention, self-directed care, parent-directed care, and involuntary treatment. To facilitate the continuum of care and treatment to minors in out-of-home placements, all divisions of the authority and the department that provide behavioral health services to minors shall jointly plan and deliver those services.
(2) It is also the purpose of this chapter to protect the rights of adolescents to confidentiality and to independently seek services for behavioral health disorders. Mental health and substance use disorder professionals shall guard against needless hospitalization and deprivations of liberty, enable treatment decisions to be made in response to clinical needs in accordance with sound professional judgment, and encourage the use of voluntary services. Mental health and substance use disorder professionals shall, whenever clinically appropriate, offer less restrictive alternatives to inpatient treatment. Additionally, all behavioral health care and treatment providers shall assure that minors' parents are given an opportunity to participate in the treatment decisions for their minor children. The behavioral health care and treatment providers shall, to the extent possible, offer services that involve minors' parents or family.
(3)(a) It is the intent of the legislature to enhance continuity of care for minors with serious behavioral health disorders that can be controlled or stabilized in a less restrictive alternative commitment. Within the guidelines stated in In re LaBelle, 107 Wn.2d 196 (1986), the legislature intends to encourage appropriate interventions at a point when there is the best opportunity to restore the minor to or maintain satisfactory functioning.
(b) For minors with a prior history or pattern of repeated hospitalizations or law enforcement interventions due to decompensation, the consideration of prior behavioral health history is particularly relevant in determining whether the minor would receive, if released, such care as is essential for his or her health or safety.
(c) Therefore, the legislature finds that for minors who are currently under a commitment order, a prior history of decompensation leading to repeated hospitalizations or law enforcement interventions should be given great weight in determining whether a new less restrictive alternative commitment should be ordered. The court must also consider any school behavioral issues, the impact on the family, the safety of other children in the household, and the developmental age of the minor.
(4) It is also the purpose of this chapter to protect the health and safety of minors suffering from behavioral health disorders and to protect public safety through use of the parens patriae and police powers of the state. Accordingly, when construing the requirements of this chapter the court must focus on the merits of the petition, except where requirements have been totally disregarded, as provided in In re C.W., 147 Wn.2d 259, 281 (2002). A presumption in favor of deciding petitions on their merits furthers both public and private interests because the mental and physical well-being of minors as well as public safety may be implicated by the decision to release a minor and discontinue his or her treatment.
(5) It is also the purpose of this chapter to assure the ability of parents to exercise reasonable, compassionate care and control of their minor children when there is a medical necessity for treatment and without the requirement of filing a petition under this chapter, including the ability to request and receive medically necessary treatment for their adolescent children without the consent of the adolescent.


Reviser's note: This section was amended by 2020 c 185 § 1 and by 2020 c 302 § 62, each without reference to the other. Both amendments are incorporated in the publication of this section under RCW 1.12.025(2). For rule of construction, see RCW 1.12.025(1).
Short title2019 c 381: See note following RCW 71.34.500.
FindingsIntentEffective date2018 c 201: See notes following RCW 41.05.018.
FindingsIntentPart headings not lawShort title1998 c 296: See notes following RCW 74.13.025.
Part headings not lawSeverability1992 c 205: See notes following RCW 13.40.010.
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