Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Note from Sam Leadholm, HLA

INTERAGENCY REVIEW TEAMS Under Chapter 321 of the Acts of 2008

Prepared by Samuel Leadholm, Staff Attorney at Health Law Advocates – October 2009


Landmark legislation passed in August of 2008 entitled “An Act Relative to Children’s Mental Health” (“Act”) restructures how the Commonwealth oversees, provides and coordinates children’s behavioral health services. Among other things, the Act creates Interagency Review Teams (“Interagency Teams”) and a hearing process to improve coordination of services for children with complex needs. The Act defines children with complex needs as those individuals under age 22 who are disabled or have special needs and may qualify for services from multiple state agencies, i.e., DMH, DCF or DDS.

These Interagency Teams must be geographically-based and consist of necessary state agency representatives from departments within the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Department of Early Education and Care, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education according to the needs of the child. If appropriate and where consent is provided, the Interagency Teams may include representatives from schools. An Interagency Team may be convened upon the request of a state agency, the juvenile court, or a parent or legal guardian.

The role of the Interagency Team is to determine what services are appropriate to the child. In doing so, the Interagency Team may evaluate whether the current services are sufficient and whether case management is needed. However, the Act does not create any new services provided by the agencies. If you are seeking a service that the agencies do not already provide, the Interagency Teams may not be helpful. The Interagency Team must listen to parents and other treatment providers before reaching any decision, which must be reached by consensus.

The Act provides that where an Interagency Team cannot reach a decision by consensus or where parents or legal guardians disagree with a decision, those decisions must be reviewed by regional directors of the respective agencies for resolution. Those regional directors must convene within 10 business days of the referral and arrive at a decision within 3 business days thereafter.

The Act also provides a right of appeal with the state’s Division of Administrative Law Appeals and that nothing in the Act limits the rights of parents or children under state and federal special education laws and regulations.

If you need additional assistance accessing these multi-agency teams, please contact: Samuel Leadholm at (617) 275-2982 or, Jennifer Honig, Staff Attorney at Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee (“MHLAC”) at (617) 338-2345 x. 25 or, or MHLAC’s intake line on M.W.F between 8:30-1 p.m. at (617) 338 2345 x. 20.

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