—Legislation to give parents the right to consent to inpatient or outpatient mental health treatment on behalf of their minor children was successfully amended by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) to prohibit one parent from overriding the consent given by a second parent.
“Many mental health service providers are having problems treating minors when one parent supersedes the wishes of another and blocks care,” Stephens said. “My amendment prohibits this.”
Stephens amended House Bill 672
, which passed the House unanimously.
The need for Stephens’ amendment was raised during a hearing of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing investigating the link between child abuse and a young person’s impaired mental development.
“The most significant barrier to services for these children is the offending parents often will not agree to these services,” said Leslie Slingsby, executive director of the Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center.
In response to Slingsby’s revelation, Stephens’ crafted the amendment to House Bill 672 so the legislation states that one parent cannot overturn another parent’s consent on the minor’s behalf.
“Too often, parents who have abused their children will veto their spouse’s decision to help those children receive mental health therapy,” Stephens said. “My amendment removes that barrier to care.”
House Bill 672 is now in the Senate awaiting action.
Representative Todd Stephens
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster