Help us protect Louisiana's children. Report Child Abuse & Neglect: 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437) toll-free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week

Kinship Caregivers - Mental/Behavioral Health, Substance Abuse

Where To Begin If you think Mental Health Treatment is needed?

  • If there is a life threatening situation , always call 911.
  • If the child is Medicaid eligible, for non­-emergent services, call Mental Health Services at 1-844-677-7553 (Hearing Loss: 1-800-846-5277) or visit https://www.louisianahealthconnect.com/.
  • For crisis support, call 1- 844-677-7553.
  • For crisis support call 1- 844-677-7553.
  • If covered under private health insurance, contact the health insurance company and/ or consult with the child's pediatrician or physician.
  • For information on state services visit the Louisiana Department of Health Office of Behavioral Health website at http://ldh.la.gov/index.cfm/subhome/10.

Who can consent to voluntary treatment?

The Louisiana Mental Health Law for children says that a child can be admitted to a treatment facility by their parent or tutor, or if those people are absent by a caretaker. A tutor is a person who is legally responsible for caring for a minor child and has been appointed by a court to be the child 's tutor. (See Tutorship Fact Sheet. Caretaker is defined as a person who is legally obligated to secure adequate care for the child. This person could be a parent, tutor, guardian, legal custodian, foster parent or other person providing a residence for a child.

In other words, if the parent is not present and a child is at least living with a person, that person can consent to mental health treatment for a child.

Sixteen (16) and Seventeen (17) year- olds (Older Teens) can consent to their own mental health treatment. For consent for other types of health care see the Health Care Legal Fact Sheet.

Does this include outpatient treatment?

The law does not make a clear distinction between inpatient and outpatient treatment. Outpatient clinics are included in the definition of treatment facilities. Most outpatient programs allow caretakers to consent to treatment. Under the law, older teens can consent to their outpatient treatment. Outpatient programs usually require caretakers to also consent.

How can involuntary treatment be obtained?

If the child is not willing to go for an evaluation, an Order for Protective Custody (OPC) can be obtained. You would go to the coroner's office or district judge where the child lives. It is usually done through the coroner . You must fill out an affidavit stating that the child is a danger to himself or others or gravely disabled and the child is unwilling to go to the evaluation . Once signed by the coroner or judge, it can be taken to the police who will pick up the child and bring them to the treatment facility.

If it is determined that treatment is necessary, the parent or tutor or in their absence the caretaker can sign the child into the treatment facility voluntarily. However, if the treatment is refused by the parent or Older Teens, it cannot be overridden by the caretaker. The doctor would have to initiate a Physician's Emergency Certificate followed by a Coroner's Emergency Certificate. These certificates are only good for 15 days from the date of the first certificate. After that time expires, a Petition for Judicial Commitment must be filed in the court. If the judge finds after a hearing that the child is a danger to himself, others or gravely disabled, the judge can judicially commit the child to an appropriate treatment facility . It will then be up to the doctor or the judge as to when the child is discharged.

Will Judicial Commitment get a child treatment?

Not necessarily. If the facility believes that the child is ready for discharge, they cannot be forced to keep the child.

Who can object to the treatment?

Parent, tutor, caretaker or older teen may object to voluntary treatment. If the facility wishes to keep the child, they would have to start the involuntary procedures within 72 hours.

With whom can the treatment facility communicate?

If the child is admitted voluntarily, the treatment facility is required to communicate on a regular basis with the parent or guardian. If there is an occurrence where the child 's safety is at risk, then the parent or guardian must be notified within 2 hours. If the child is not admitted voluntarily, there is no requirement for regular communication with the parent. However, that does not prevent the facility from communicating with the parent.

Parents or tutors are permitted access to the child's medical record at any time whether or not the child is admitted voluntarily.

Who is entitled to legal representation in mental health matters?

Parents, tutors and caretakers are not entitled to legal representation in mental health matters. However, they may hire an attorney. Children are entitled to legal representation from the Mental Health Advocacy Service. It is the obligation of these attorneys to represent the wishes of the child.