September, 2015
The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore
In This Issue

September is: 
National Recovery Month
Every September, SAMHSA
(Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use issues and celebrate the people who recover.
Check out the resources below: 

2nd Annual Jordan Michael Filler Foundation 5K Walk/Run 
Sept. 19, 2015 
Highland Park, IL
(Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities)

Meaningful Parent Participation  
in IEP Meetings 
Practical Considerations 

Presented by Micki Moran, J.D. 
Wednesday, September 30 
6:30-7:00 p.m.

Call our office at 847-926-0101
Upcoming Events

Special Education Advocacy for Parents 
 Workshop led by Micki Moran 

September 12, 2015 
9 am-Noon 
Highland Park  

Click for Info 

"IEP 101"  
Presented by Micki Moran, JD and Rachel Loftin, PhD  
October 2, 2015 
12:00 -1:00 pm  
Rush AARTS Center 
Chicago, IL

Call our office for information 
Enhancing Capacity Through Community Partnerships

A Symposium Sponsored by: 
Center for Independent Futures, The Coleman Foundation and AFCD Institute 
October 16, 2015 
Skokie, IL

Click for Information

Micki Moran and Rachel Loftin to Present: 

Sexuality Education of Students with Autism and the Law
2015 Non Public  Conference 
Supporting Special Education Programs Across All School Settings 
November 12-13
Hilton, Oak Lawn 

Have Dreams offers the following programs:

Saturday Robotics Program for High School Students with Autism

Have Dreams Academy Workplace Training Program

Project Search Collaborates for Autism

Call 847-905-0702 or check out the
Have Dreams
website for more information 
Have Dreams

Is your group or organization having an event?
Email or call our office at 847-926-0101 with the information and The Child and Family Law Center will be happy to publish it in our Newsletter. 

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Founded by Micki Moran, J.D., we are a unique legal practice that specializes in providing services to families and children in the areas of:
  • Special Education
  • IEP Consultation
  • Divorce and Custody
  • Parenting Agreements
  • Mediation
  • Guardianship
  • Juvenile Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Mental Health Law
  • DCFS

We provide representation in the following Northern Illinois counties:

Cook, Lake, DuPage, Kane, McHenry, and Will. 

Special Education: 
Tips for a Good Start to the School Year
  • Schedule a meeting within 30 days of the start of school to check in with the team. (Brief-less than one hour if things seem to be on track)
  • Prepare a proposed Agenda prior to the meeting and circulate it to the school in advance.
  • Emphasize what has worked in the past and what hasn't.
  • Be clear on your priorities for the year.
  • Update the school about how the summer went and of any new developments in your child's life.
  • Communication: Agree on how you and the school will communicate with each other (e.g. e-mails, how frequently). Who will communication be with? The case manager? Individual teachers? Things can be complicated when students have multiple teachers.
  • Do you need an extra set of books, e-mails about homework, accommodations and modifications?
  • Coordinate with outside professionals and the school team when appropriate. Sign releases for this communication to happen.
Special Education: Legislation Alert 
The Arc of Illinois reported in its August 10, 2015 Legislation Update: "SB 226 (Lightford and Welch)--Amends the School Code. Provides that the State Board of Education may work with school districts to inform all students with developmental disabilities and their parents or guardians about the PUNS database. Further provides that, subject to appropriation, DHS and the State Board of Education shall develop and implement an online, computer-based training program for at least one designated employee in every public school to educate the employee about the PUNS database and steps to be taken to ensure that children and youth with developmental disabilities are enrolled. Requires instruction so that at least one designated employee in each public school will know how to contact the independent service coordination agency to enroll students in the PUNS database. Also requires that one designated employee in each public school be responsible for discussing PUNS at annual IEP reviewing meetings for students with developmental disabilities. In the legislative floor debate the sponsor clarified that the public school responsibilities under this bill are also subject to appropriations. Public Act 99-144, effective January 1, 2016."

The PUNS database (Priority of Urgency of Needs for Service) is a waiting list kept by the state of all individuals with developmental disabilities who may need services provided by the government now or in the future. In order to have access to services, you must first register for PUNS. To do so, you must contact your PAS/ISC agency for an intake interview.

Click here for information on how to access PUNS. 
Issues for Parents of Young Adults with Mental Health or Substance Abuse

One of the most frustrating issues for parents of young adults who are over 18 is that they are frequently  denied access to information regarding health care, mental health treatment or other concerns by treating professionals. Parents will call the office panicked and upset when their young adult is psychiatrically hospitalized or in trouble emotionally and they cannot get access or information from the physician or psychologist who is treating them. Often, these parents will tell me they want to become guardians for their child. In many instances this isn't appropriate both legally or personally. Simply making poor choices isn't a legally sustainable reason for taking guardianship of an individual. There are other options that can be put into place that allow parents a "place at the table" for medical or educational decision making.

This can be addressed if your young adult gives permission for the discussion or release of information. Sometimes, in the heat of emotions, they will refuse or they are too ill to consent. What options do parent have in lieu of guardianship?

Delegation of Educational Rights 
This form gives parents the right to make and participate in educational decision making for their child who is over 18 if they have an IEP.  I recommend that the discussion regarding how this will be handled occur well before the child's 18th birthday. Parents can also seek guardianship in appropriate cases but this delegation of rights allows the young adult and the parents to work in partnership with the school in developing an educational plan.

Power of Attorney 
Parents may want to talk with their adolescent or young adult about signing a Power of Attorney for Health Care. This form allows the parents to make medical decisions and be involved in the treatment planning. The Illinois Short Form Power of Attorney for Health Care also allows the agent (parents or other person who is granted this power) to have access to information under HIPAA and allows access to Mental Health Information. In a crisis this ability to communicate with treatment professionals is critical.

Mental Health Declaration 
An adult of sound mind may put into writing his or her preferences regarding future mental health treatment. The preferences may include consent or refusal of mental health treatment and may be stated on the Mental Health Declaration Forms.

Recommendations: A discussion prior to an emergency or the child's 18th birthday may be helpful. In our office, we sometimes have a meeting with the family members and the young adult to discuss options, concerns and what makes sense on a going forward basis. The presence of an attorney can serve to eliminate or reduce the sensitive family dynamics and help explain what the rights and obligations of each person will be if these forms are executed. 
Confidentiality and Therapists in Custody Litigation

In our divorce practice there is frequently an intersection between mental health issues and the litigation or disputes. Unfortunately, the parties often attempt to draw the therapist into the court proceedings.

The Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act 740 ISCS 110/1 et seq. states that all therapy is confidential. The confidentiality can only be waived by express written consent of a party in treatment, or if that party puts their mental state at issue in the litigation. Parents are often surprised to hear that a child over 12 must consent to the release of this information. For children under 12, the parents can consent to the release of this information.
If a person/child is court ordered to participate in individual counseling or family counseling, Subsection (f) states that all counseling sessions are to remain confidential and the communications in counseling shall not be used in any matter in litigation nor relied upon by any expert appointed by the court or hired by any party.

How does that all play into the divorce process where a guardian ad litem, child representative or a 604(b) evaluator seek access to this information? In the divorce process where custody is an issue, the guardian ad litem, child representative or evaluators will seek to secure a release from the parties to talk to the therapists.

In the midst of the custody or other disputes, waivers are signed. It is important to note that this waiver gives access to the child representative or the GAL and any retained or court appointed expert to speak to the therapist or treating professionals. This doesn't open the door completely to the lawyer's access to the treating professionals. They cannot be called to testify or otherwise breach confidentiality. However, it does leave the door open for information to be shared without an opportunity for cross-examination or any ability to refute the interpretations of the opinions of those professionals. The disclosure of information certainly can be damaging to litigants in custody proceedings but more importantly, it will most likely erode any trust or confidence in the therapeutic relationship. The grey area between partial confidentiality and total confidentiality is not helpful to any of the parties.

If therapists or mental health professionals are going to help either children or adults in the litigation, the client is best served by creating a safe haven for all concerned where they cannot disclose any therapeutic information and are protected from even partial disclosure in the divorce process.

Micki Moran 
The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore 
1950 Sheridan Road, Suite 201 
Highland Park, IL 60035 
Phone (847) 926-0101 
Fax (847) 926-8500