Juvenile Crisis & Assessment Centers

DOWNLOAD: Program Operations Guidelines

Program Operations Guidelines

1. Methodist Home for Children provides assessment center services to children regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, or economic status. MHC avoids discrimination in its admissions procedures.
2. Methodist Home for Children provides assessment center services that are available 24 hours a day, every day in the year.
3. To be eligible for admission into an assessment center facility, a youth must:

a. Be a youth between the ages of 10 and 17 years of age; and,
b. Meet any contractual eligibility for the assessment center by public agencies under contractual agreements.

4. Referrals and admissions procedures for assessment center placement are handled by Assistant Director. The typical length of stay for the assessment center program is 14-30 days. The Director and Contract Administrator must approve lengths of stay that exceed 30 days.
5. Program staff work cooperatively to fill vacancies quickly and efficiently. This will promote the agency’s goal of effectively utilizing resources through service to the maximum number of children and families.


1. All inquiries about admissions to the assessment center are directed to the assistant director or the clinical case managers.
2. Requests for referrals are responded to within two (2) working days by a member of the administrative team. The supervisor screens to make a preliminary determination as to whether the youth meets the prescribed eligibility criteria.
3. The assessment center staff will ensure that the referral form and information needed for a complete referral are obtained prior to admission. Information included in this form includes:

a. Circumstances that led to the need for placement, and the youth’s understanding of the placement;
b. Assessment of family issues and justification that the assessment center meets the needs of the youth and family;
c. Short-term placement goals and long-range permanent plan, including the parent’s, guardian’s, or legal custodian’s expectations;
d. Description of the youth’s family and significant others;
e. Description of the youth’s behavior;
f. Youth-specific information, including:

1) Medical history, including any current medical problems;
2) Developmental history and current level of functioning;
3) Educational history, if applicable; and,
4) Results of current psychological testing, if applicable.

4. All referral information is entered into the agency-approved database. The information includes: a) youth’s name, age, sex, and race; b) names of parents, guardian, or legal custodian; and, c) disposition of admission.
5. MHC does not accept out-of-state referrals (public or private) for its assessment center program.
6. All documents obtained during the admission process are included in the youth case record.
7. At the time of acceptance and admission, the assistant director or designee is responsible for obtaining the following MHC assessment center documents (samples of these forms are included in this section):

a. Consent for Release of Information
b. Informed Consent
c. Client Rights
d. Medical/Dental Agreement and Consent for Emergency Care
e. Orientation Agreement
f. Pre-Placement Informed Consent for HIV/HBV
g. Publication Consent Form
h. Youth Quick Retrieval Data
i. Visitation Authorization

8. The court counselor is also responsible for obtaining the following external documents from the legal custodian:

1. Birth Certificate
2. Court Petition/Court Order (if applicable)
3. Department of Juvenile Justice Risk and Needs Assessment (if applicable)
4. Client Adjudication Order (if applicable)
5. Immunization Record
6. Insurance or Medicaid Card
7. Related Court Documents (if applicable)
8. Related Mental Health Documents (if applicable)
9. School Records: attendance reports, disciplinary referrals, academic transcripts, etc.

9. At the time of admission (i.e., when the youth arrives at the assessment center with his or her personal belongings), the assessment center staff review the final admission documents (listed above) with everyone involved and obtain the necessary signatures.
10. The assessment center staff is responsible completing and distribute the following documents for newly admitted youth:

a. Client Rights Handbook (distribute to client)
b. Clothing Inventory
c. Informed Consent
d. Client Rights
e. Notice of Privacy Practices Handbook (distribute to client)
f. Personal Property of Youth Form
g. Youth Orientation Information Form (which includes program expectations regarding non-compliant behaviors).

11. Assessment center staff are to upload all newly acquired admissions documents into the agency-approved database within 72 hours of the youth’s admission.
12. Refer to the Youth Home Services Program Operations Manual section entitled Youth Care and Safety for samples of the Clothing Inventory and Personal Property of Youth forms.
13. During the course of service delivery, assessment center staff will include, at a minimum, the following documents in the client records:

a. Documentation of placement authority by parents, guardian, or legal custodian;
b. Written placement consent;
c. MHC Assessment center Referral Form (written intake study) and related documents;
d. Completed application for services that includes demographic information on the youth and the youth’s family;
e. Documentation that verifies the child’s birth;
f. Immunization records;
g. Court orders;
h. Consents for release of information;
i. Written Consents for routine and emergency medical treatment from the legal custodian or parent authorizing routine medical and dental treatment and emergency treatment;
j. Consents for time-limited audio-visual recording signed by both the child and parents or guardian, or legal custodian (if applicable);
k. Ongoing records of medical and dental care received, including hospitalizations, illnesses, or accidents and treatment provided;
l. Documentation of medical insurance;
m. Progress and transition notes
n. Incident Reports (if applicable)
o. Discharge summary including the date of discharge, time of discharge, and the name, address, telephone number, and relationship of the person or agency to whom the child was discharged, a summary of services provided during care, needs which remain to be met, and plans for the services needed to meet these goals.

14. MHC maintains client records for the purpose of:

a. Protecting the legal rights of the child, parents, guardian, or legal custodian, and the facility;
b. Documenting service provision to the child and family, including an evaluation of effectiveness of services provided; and,
c. Providing a source of information about individual children, as well as information for the facility in planning its program of care and services.

15. MHC Staff recording entries in the client records shall data, initial, or sign the entries.

Assessment of Youths in Care

To describe the assessment process and tools used for youths admitted into care.


1. Upon admission, each youth will be assessed to determine the level of assessment needed to develop an appropriate Service Plan.
2. The youth’s family or legally responsible person shall be informed of the assessment process, which will be consistent with the cultural needs of the client and family.


1. The Clinical Case Manager or designated MHC representative completes an initial Intake/Referral/Application form (copy appended) prior to but not beyond 72 hours of admission. This document summarizes the essential referral information which includes, but is not limited to:

a. A statement of the presenting issue (s) or reason for referral;
b. Assessment of the youth’s need(s)/strengths and, when appropriate, the need(s)/strengths of family members who may contribute to services provided to the youth;
c. Diagnostic impression, including a provisional or admitting diagnosis (when appropriate);
d. Description of present condition/current status based upon the youth’s presenting issues; including all of the following that are applicable:

–mental status;
–developmental condition or impairment;
–substance use/abuse issues;
–legal status or circumstances;
–medical conditions;
–family/other support systems;

e. Estimated length of stay, rationales and disposition or long-term goals or recommendations, if

2. The Intake Specialist utilizes agency-approved assessment tools to create an assessment that identifies youth strengths and needs in an array of life domains.
3. Interviews will be conducted with the youth, legal guardian, and other involved persons familiar with the youth. This Assessment will include, but is not limited to, the following information:

a. Referral Information
b. Presenting Concerns
c. Current Behaviors
d. History of Legal Issues
e. Educational Concerns
f. Current Mental Health Diagnoses
g. Current Medications
h. Handicapping Conditions/Physical Impairments
i. Medical or Dental Concerns
j. Substance Abuse Issues
k. History of Physical Abuse, Neglect, or Sexual Abuse
l. Suicidal or Homicidal Attempts or Concerns
m. Family Dynamics
n. Outpatient Service Needs
o. Youth’s Strengths and Needs
p. Recommendation for Referral Response

4. All information is shared with involved MHC staff to be incorporated in the Service Planning process.

Minors Requesting Services

To state Methodist Home for Children’s policy on service to minors who apply without the support or knowledge of their legal custodian.


The assessment center program does not accept applications from minors who approach the agency independent of their legal custodian’s participation in the process.


1. Upon receipt of an application from a minor who is attempting to refer himself or herself for services, the assessment center staff will explain that the application must be initiated by the minor’s legal custodian.
2. If the minor seeking services indicates that he or she is at risk, being subject to abuse, or experiencing neglect, the Intake Specialist or designee will advise the minor of the appropriate agency or individual to contact for assistance. In the case of abuse, the assessment center staff will discuss the allegation with his or her supervisor and determine (in accordance with agency policy concerning abuse and neglect reporting) where and how to proceed with a formal report on behalf of the minor.


MHC Agency Policy Manual. Agency Policy III.D. Providing Services to Clients Legally Identified as Minors.