Netcare provides a juvenile competency attainment program for those youth whom have been adjudicated as incompetent to stand trial and deemed clinically appropriate for services on an outpatient basis. Our program was designed to comport with the requirements of Sections 2152.51-2152.59 of the Ohio Revised Code. This multidisciplinary program is staffed by Master’s level clinicians, doctoral psychologists, and a consulting child psychiatrist. Behavioral health treatment services for the “mental illness, intellectual disability, developmental disability, or other lack of mental capacity” identified in the juvenile competency examination report are provided by Master’s level clinicians. Treatment is guided by an individualized treatment plan, which is constructed to meet the specific competency-related issues that have been identified as problematic in the competency evaluation report.
Specifically, treatment is tailored to help the child:
1) comprehend and appreciate the legal charge(s)
2) understand the adversarial nature of the proceedings, including roles and functions of key courtroom personnel
3) assist in defense and communicate with counsel
4) comprehend and appreciate the consequences that may be imposed or result from the legal proceedings
We designed our program to be clinical in nature as many of the youth we have opined as incompetent in the past often lacked not just factual understanding of the legal proceedings, but had problems with capacity to assist that were related to symptoms associated with mental illness and/or development disability. From a competency attainment perspective, such youth are best served by a skills-based approach that helps them develop symptom management techniques. In this regard, it is important to note that our program has a consulting board-certified child psychiatrist available for situations in which psychotropic medication may be necessary.
For youth who have primary problems with comprehension of factual court-related knowledge, we employ a psychoeducational approach. Formal progress reports, which describe in detail treatment compliance and progress towards competency attainment goals, are filed with the Court thirty days after initiation of services and every 30 days thereafter until treatment ends.
Frequency of services is tailored to individual needs, though the most typical arrangement is once-per-week sessions. Treatment duration is dictated by the provisions of the Ohio Revised Code, such that outpatient competency attainment services are provided for a period not exceeding three months if the child is charged with an act that would be a misdemeanor if committed by an adult, six months if the child is charged with an act that would be a felony of the third, fourth, or fifth degree if committed by an adult, or one year if the child is charged with an act that would be a felony of the first or second degree, aggravated murder, or murder if committed by an adult. Formal re-assessments of competency are done by experienced forensic psychologists from the Netcare Forensic Center.