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NBC: 6-year-old girl was committed to mental health facility without parent consent

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6-year-old girl was committed to mental health facility without parent consent

 

A 6-year-old Florida girl was committed for two days to a mental health facility without her mother's consent after allegedly throwing a temper tantrum at school, an attorney for the family said.

 

The child was allegedly given anti-psychotic medications at the center, also without the permission of her mother, Martina Falk.

 

The mother is now demanding answers from officials at Love Grove Elementary School in Jacksonville for their handling of the Feb. 4 incident.

 

Falk's lawyer, Reganel Reeves, said a mental health counselor was called to the school because Nadia was reportedly having a tantrum and throwing chairs.

 

The counselor evaluated Nadia, who has ADHD and has been diagnosed with a mood disorder, and determined that she needed to be committed under the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, commonly known as the Baker Act.

 

The Baker Act gives social workers in Florida the power to initiate involuntary holds on children as young as 2 without the need for parental permission.

 

According to Reeves, Falk was not called and informed about the incident until after Nadia had been committed to the facility.

 

Falk, breaking down in tears, said at a news conference Thursday that her daughter is not able to communicate what happened to her because of her disability.

 

"She can only tell you bits and pieces. 'Mommy, they locked the door. They wouldn't let me out. Mommy, they gave me a shot,'" Falk said.

 

Deputies with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office were called to the school to assist and take Nadia to the facility. Police body-camera footage shows the girl calmly walking out of the school.

 

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How many states have the equivalent of the Baker Act and how many Mental Health Organizations have endorsed it for this purpose?

Edited by Renegade7

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So the timeline as I understand it is this.  The school tried to calm the child and failed.  They didn’t call her mom after this, which you’d think would be option 1.  They called an outside third party counselor instead.  One that apparently contracts with the school.  That person had to arrive from somewhere outside the school and evaluate the child.  At no point during this process did the school contact her mother.  The counselor made a decision to have a six year old committed and called the police, who took time to arrive and speak with everyone involved before taking the child away. Only after all of this was done, did they contact the girls mother.  
 

The school is quick to wash their hands of responsibility saying it wasn’t their decision to have the child committed.  That’s clear from their statement, but if I’m reading the article correctly it was their choice to hold off notifying her parent until afterwards.  
 

I’d have a hard time trusting a school that chooses to keep parents ignorant and out of their way when their child is in crisis.

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I'm in favor of widespread involuntary care, but not for kids that young, and not without giving the parent a chance to help their child first.

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I'm reluctant to press the outrage button in cases like these where the situation seems so outrageous until there's chance for both sides to present their views and more facts become known.  But it's really hard to imagine a set of circumstances where it's justifiable to have involuntary commitment happening to someone so young without notification to the parents and an opportunity to obtain an injunction from the courts (and it's doubly hard to imagine a judge not saying let the parents take the child home for now and we'll sort this out later).

 

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11 hours ago, Renegade7 said:

How many states have the equivalent of the Baker Act and how many Mental Health Organizations have endorsed it for this purpose?

 

At least in Virginia, kids under the age of 14 cannot be admitted in a psych facility without the parent or guardian's consent.  

 

Now if the situation clearly calls for it and parents are refusing, CPS would have to petition for emergency guardianship or TDO so that the decision gets taken out of the parents' hands.  But that at least means the case goes before a (likely a very skeptical) judge.  

 

Here, they said the child was calm by the time she was being escorted out.  Unless we are talking about habitual offenses with the parents clearly not doing anything to help the situation, I doubt a judge will sign off on the commitment.  Heck, even then, foster care would be the more likely option in that scenario (most likely do CPS parental intervention services first).  

Edited by bearrock

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51 minutes ago, bearrock said:

 

Here, they said the child was calm by the time she was being escorted out.  Unless we are talking about habitual offenses with the parents clearly not doing anything to help the situation,

 

From what we know it's hard to see how the school's action was reasonable, but you would think this action by the school must have been to escalate something that had not been addressed in the past. Not informing the parent suggests they wanted this to escalate.

 

I was wondering if they just don't want to deal with special needs kids, but she apparently is already in a special needs class according to: https://www.nbc29.com/2020/02/16/girl-with-special-needs-taken-mental-health-facility-after-reported-tantrum-fla-school/

 

"She is on medication for various mental health issues and is in a class specifically for children with special needs. "

Edited by Corcaigh

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