Given the choice, you probably would choose mental health services for your child over juvenile detention if he or she is in trouble with the law.
But could you afford the roughly $100,000 a year to pay for residential treatment? For most families, the answer is no.
Until recently, if parents couldn’t pay that expensive price, they had a gut-wrenching choice: Give up custody to the state to get the treatment or risk juvenile detention for the child.
Fortunately, a new law provides a sensible solution for parents of these children. They don’t have to give up custody to get the necessary treatment, according to an Illinois Public Media article which sheds light on the new law.
The old law was ‘unfair’ to parents and children
Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert successfully pushed for a revision to the Mental Health and Development Disabilities Administrative Act. He spoke to Illinois Public Media about the unfairness of the law before the change was enacted.
“It's bad for the parents, the families, it's certainly bad for the child. It's bad for society because DCFS has enough to deal with (with) actual legitimate cases that need to be in their custody,” he said.
About 100 children in Cook County and 200 statewide are in court-mandated custody, which allows them access to mental health treatment.
Parents must apply for a state grant
Under the new law, parents or guardians of children in need of mental health services won’t have to give up custody to the state for treatment. They must apply for a state grant called the “Family Support Program” to cover the cost of the treatment, instead. They either must have been awarded the grant or have sent an application to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS).
How an attorney can help
While the law has changed for the better, parents of a child or teenager who has been arrested will still need to deal with paperwork, including legal documents and applications that must be completed accurately. There are complex legal issues that need to be addressed starting on the day your child is arrested or accused of wrongdoing.
You might think a case involving your child is straightforward and easy enough for you to handle on your own, but you could face serious, unwanted consequences if you’re not prepared. That’s why you need an experienced family law attorney on your side. When you risk losing custody of your child to the state, you don’t want to take chances of going it alone.