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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Treatment Consent for Minors

Q. I am trying to find information on the requirements for parental consent/authorization for treatment of a minor child to receive clinical counseling services. I am a clinical social worker working in a college scholarship program as the mental health counselor. Several of my clients are minors. All students are required to meet with me at least twice a year. Do you know what needs to be included in the consent form, or where I can obtain this information? I live in California. I'm sure this would be useful for people in other states as well. Do you happen to know if there is a directory for national or state to state requirements?

A. Requirements for parental consent for treatment of a minor child vary from state to state. The National Center for Youth Law, 114 Sansome St. Ste 900, San Francisco CA 94104 is an excellent resource in this matter. They have prepared a document entitled "State Minor Consent Statutes: A Summary" (April 1995). They survey each state's statutory provisions applicable to minor consent. Much turns on whether the individual in question is an "emancipated minor", a "minor living apart", a "pregnant minor", etc., as well as on the professional qualifications of the counselor, whether the counseling agency is state-funded, etc. You can contact the Center at 415-543-3307. Alternatively, you might just check with your state Department of Social Services, and ask for their legal office.

November 2001

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