SECTION 1. Chapter 18C of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended in section 1 by inserting following new definition:-
“Mental health disorder”, any mental, behavioral or emotional disorder described in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual or DSM, which substantially interferes with or substantially limits the functioning and social interactions of a child or adolescent.
SECTION 2. Chapter 18C of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby further amended in section 2 by striking out, in line 14, the word “and”.
SECTION 3. Chapter 18C of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby further amended in section 2 by striking out subsection (d) and inserting in place thereof the following subsections:-
(d) advise the public and those at the highest levels of state government about how the commonwealth may improve its services to and for children and their families; and
(e) oversee the children’s mental health ombuds program, as described in sections 14 and 15.
SECTION 3. Chapter 18C of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after section 13 the following sections:-
Section 14. (a) The child advocate, subject to appropriation or the receipt of federal funds, shall establish a statewide children’s mental health ombuds program for the purpose of advocating on behalf of children with mental health disorders, identifying barriers to effective mental health treatment and proposed solutions; monitoring and ensuring compliance with relevant statutes, regulations, rules and policies pertaining to children’s behavioral health services; and of receiving, investigating, and resolving through administrative action, as described in subsection (c), complaints filed by a child or by individuals legally authorized to act on behalf of a child or children or by any individual, organization or government agency that has reason to believe that any entity regulated by the commonwealth or government agency has engaged in activities, practices or omissions that constitute violations of applicable court orders, statutes or regulations or that may have an adverse effect upon the health, safety, welfare or rights of children.
(bc) The child advocate shall designate a staff person to act as the director of the ombuds program who shall be a person qualified by training and experience to perform the duties of the office. The ombuds shall not be subject to the provisions of sections 8 or 9 of chapter 30. The child advocate, in consultation with the secretary of the executive office of health and human services, the director of the office of medicaid, the commissioner of mental health and the secretary of the department of education, shall establish policies and procedures as needed to facilitate compliance with the provisions of the ombuds program. These policies and procedures shall include procedures for filing complaints, investigating complaints, and taking action to implement resolutions to these complaints, including the use of state agency e nforcement authority to resolve complaints as recommended by the ombuds.
(cd) Investigations conducted by the ombuds shall be subject to sections 7, 8 and 12 of this chapter.
Section 15. To ensure the goals of the ombuds program as described in section 14 are met:
(a) the ombuds shall monitor the development and implementation of federal, state and local statutes, regulations and policies regarding services and supports for children with mental health disorders, including the education of these children;
(b) the ombuds shall maintain complete records of complaints received, the actions taken, findings, outcomes, and recommendations in response to such complaints and other actions, including those taken by the government and private agency responses to serious complaints;
(c) each quarter, the ombuds shall send a report to each government agency about which a complaint or complaints were received by the ombuds during the relevant period, listing the complaints involving that agency which were received during the past quarter, and shall meet regularly with the child advocate, the secretary of the executive office of health and human services, the director of the office of medicaid, the commissioner of mental health and the secretary of the department of education, and shall report on any system-wide problems that the ombuds has identified, and potential solutions; and
(d) the child advocate shall report annually, within 120 days of the end of the fiscal year, to the governor, the speaker of the house, the senate president, the joint committee on mental health, substance use and recovery, the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities, the joint committee on education, and the house and senate clerks on the activities of the children’s mental health ombuds program, including complaints that are relevant to the ombuds, an analysis of patterns in complaints made through the ombuds, and requests for assistance made through the office of patient protection, the department of children and families ombuds and the department of mental health investigations department, and shall make recommendations for legislation, policy or programmatic changes related to the protection of the rights of children with mental health disorders. These reports shall be publicly available and published on the office of the child advocate website.
SECTION 6. The child advocate shall promulgate regulations and establish policies and procedures as necessary for performing the required activities of the children’s mental health ombuds program.
The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The General Court provides this information as a public service and while we endeavor to keep the data accurate and current to the best of our ability, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.