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Introduced by Representatives Donahue of Northfield, Andrews of Rutland City, Errecart of Shelburne, French of Randolph, McAllister of Highgate and Pillsbury of Brattleboro

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Mental health; application for voluntary admission

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to clarify the limited ability of children under 14 years of age to consent to voluntary admission into a designated mental health facility, to establish a clear process for voluntary admissions for children under 14, and to provide for the child a representative who is authorized to compel court review of the hospitalization upon a finding of probable cause that the hospitalization is unnecessary.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  18 V.S.A. § 7503 is amended to read:


(a)  Any person 14 years of age or over may apply for voluntary admission to a designated hospital for examination and treatment.

(b)  Before the person may be admitted as a voluntary patient he, the person shall give his consent in writing on a form adopted by the department.  The consent shall include a representation that the person understands that his the treatment will involve inpatient status, that he the person desires to be admitted to the hospital, and that he the person consents to admission voluntarily, without any coercion or duress.

(c)  If the person is under 14 years of age, he may be admitted as a voluntary patient if he consents to admission, as provided in subsection (b) of this section, and if a parent or guardian makes written application.

Sec. 2.  18 V.S.A. § 7503a is added to read:


                OF AGE

(a)  A person under 14 years of age may be admitted as a voluntary patient to a designated hospital for examination and treatment if a parent or guardian gives consent to admission.

(b)  Within 72 hours of admission of a person under 14 years of age, the designated hospital shall notify the court of the admission.

(c)  Within 24 hours of admission of the child to the hospital, the hospital shall provide notice to the designated protection and advocacy agency for the state of Vermont under 42 U.S.C. § 10801 et seq. which shall appoint a representative for the child.  The representative, who shall be paid by the hospital at a reasonable reimbursement rate set by the department, shall consult with the child’s treatment team and monitor the child’s mental health status for the first 14 days of any hospitalization.

(d)  If the child’s representative finds at any time that there is probable cause that the child is not in need of hospitalization and notifies the hospital of its determination, or if the child’s hospitalization exceeds 14 days, the child’s hospitalization shall be classified as involuntary, and the hospital shall either release the child or apply to the district court in the district in which the hospital is located for the involuntary admission of the child under section 7612 of this title.

(e)  Upon such application, the child shall be represented by Legal Aid.  The court, on its own motion or by request of the child’s attorney, may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of the child and shall do so for any child age 10 or younger.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont