February 9, 2015 – Children’s Issues

During the General Assembly session, the disAbility Law Center of Virginia is available to assist policy makers as they consider issues that affect persons with disabilities.  The mission of the disAbility Law Center of Virginia is, through zealous and effective advocacy and legal representation, to protect and advance the legal, human and civil rights of people with disabilities, to combat and prevent abuse, neglect and discrimination, and to promote independence, choice and self-determination by persons with disabilities.

 “Crossover” is tomorrow, Tuesday, February10th.  That is the the point of the session when a bill must be approved by its house of origin and must move to the other house.  Any bill that has not been through the entire process in its house of origin by Tuesday is effectively dead.

There are several bills under consideration that will have an affect on children with disabilities.

Seclusion and Restraint in Public Schools

SB 782 (Favola) was approved by the full Senate.  It now moves to the House.

HB 1443 (Richard Bell) was approved by the full House.  It now moves to the Senate.

Both bills require the state Department of Education to develop regulations concerning the use of restraints in public schools. The bills require the regulations to include definitions, criteria for use, restrictions for use, training requirements, notification requirements, reporting requirements, and follow-up requirements when seclusion or restraint are used. The regulations must address distinctions in emotional and physical development and must be based on the Fifteen Principles contained in the U.S. Department of Education’s Restraint and Seclusion Resource Document. 

Mental Health Treatment of Objecting Minors

HB 1717 (LeMunyon) was approved by the House Courts of Justice and has been read twice in the full House of Delegates.   The House must read it one more time and vote on it before crossover.  The bill requires a treating facility to notify parents before discharging a minor and establishes a new standard for when an adolescent is held for treatment over the young person’s objection. If someone over the age of 14 objects to further treatment after four days, the new language requires an evaluator and a court to consider whether the young person appears to have a mental illness serious enough to warrant inpatient treatment, is reasonably likely to benefit from the treatment and has been provided with an explanation of the treatment.  The new language also asks whether all less restrictive treatment modalities have been considered

SB 773 (McWaters) requires parental notification when a hospitalized minor objects to further treatment and lowers the standard by which an objecting minor can be held for treatment, using language similar to HB 1717.  The bill has been approved by the full Senate and now moves to the House.

SB 779 (McWaters) extends the period of time an objecting minor can be held from 4 days to 5 days.  The bill has been approved by the full Senate and now moves to the House.

Mental Health Education in the Schools

HB 1581 (Watts) requires public schools to include in their family life curricula a discussion about mental health and the availability of advanced directives for mental health care.  It has been approved by the full House of Delegates and now moves to the Senate.