childlaw.net: Be Careful When “Making Healthy Choices”

I will repost this in its short entirety.

Attorneys who represent youths, parents, and foster parents have reason to be concerned about a pamphlet recently published by the federal government’s Children’s Bureau. The pamphlet, “Making Healthy Choices,” is intended to advise youth in foster care about psychotropic medications and is being distributed nationwide in English and Spanish.

Unfortunately, the pamphlet encourages youths to fill out a checklist/questionnaire of crimes they may have committed and to list deficits in their personalities and character. The youths are encouraged to share the checklist/questionnaire information with people who have authority over them. We believe that the result will be stigmatization of youths and in some cases even arrests and convictions flowing from youths’ confessions to criminal acts.

We intend to ask the Children’s Bureau to withdraw or revise its pamphlet/questionnaire. Attorneys who may be interested in joining in this recall effort may request further information by sending an e-mail with the text “subscribe—Children’s Bureau pamphlet:” to eopton@youthlaw.org.

It took me several clicks to find the actual pamphlet, which is here. The offending page appears to be Page 5, which asks kids to confess in writing to acts of arson, animal cruelty, property destruction, drug use, and battery (to name a few). Extending the doctor-patient privilege to a checklist, which specifically says it is not for medical advice, may be a stretch, and would likely be waived when the child hands the paper to his case manager (who will then freak out and call the police). I would highly recommend advocates only let their kids fill out this form under the direction of a licensed physician or in consultation with an attorney.

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