PREVENTING CUSTODY RELINQUISHMENT FOR YOUTH WITH MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE STATE OF UTAH

Abstract

For years, parents and guardians of youth with complex mental health needs have struggled to find adequate services. This problem is neither new, nor unrecognized. In 1999, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) issued a report: Families on the Brink: The Impact of Ignoring Children with Serious Mental Illness. This nationwide study found that 23% of all respondents were told that they must give up custody of their child in order to get needed mental health services, and that 20% actually went through with custody relinquishment. Several commentators have recently described this problem at the national level, identified the root causes, and discussed potential solutions. In fact, the Journal of Law and Family Studies has within the last five years published two articles discussing this problem at the national level. This note will describe in more depth how the problem manifests itself in the state of Utah, and offer some specific proposals for solving the problem. Part I briefly describes the nature of the custody relinquishment problem and uses a recent Washington Supreme Court case to illustrate some of the policy implications posed by this problem. Part II discusses the legal implications of custody relinquishment, framing it as a societal problem best addressed through a comprehensive and collaborative effort between advocates, service providers, and state agencies. Part III discusses a program the city of Milwaukee has piloted in an effort to combat the root causes of custody relinquishment. Part IV demonstrates the ways in which this problem is manifested here in the state of Utah, and describes some promising steps being taken by Salt Lake County's Third District Court. Part V offers specific recommendations for moving toward an integrated system of youth mental health care that keeps families together and eliminates the need for custody relinquishment.  
How to Cite
. PREVENTING CUSTODY RELINQUISHMENT FOR YOUTH WITH MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE STATE OF UTAH. Journal of Law and Family Studies, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 1, mar. 2010. Available at: <http://epubs.utah.edu/index.php/jlfs/article/view/288>. Date accessed: 23 nov. 2017.
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