Juveniles housed in the state’s youth rehabilitation and treatment centers could be moved more quickly during an emergency situation under a bill amended and advanced from select file April 28.
LB273, as introduced by Kearney Sen. John Lowe and amended on general file, would allow the state Department of Health and Human Services to file an immediate change of placement motion to transfer a juvenile to a different facility. A hearing on the motion would be held within 24 hours and could be conducted by telephone or videoconference.
An immediate change of placement could be filed in cases when a juvenile requires additional specialized care to address substance use or behavioral health needs. A qualifying emergency also could include a public health emergency, natural disaster or damage that renders a YRTC uninhabitable.
The court would order a temporary emergency change of placement if it determines that the change would be appropriate and in the best interests of the juvenile.
Lowe offered an amendment on select file that would require the court to notify a juvenile’s parent or guardian of the motion to transfer, including that the hearing would be held within 24 hours.
Additionally, the department would be required to provide all parties of record with the evidence and witnesses to be presented during an emergency hearing. The juvenile would be ensured an opportunity to consult with legal counsel and review the motion and all evidence before the hearing.
Omaha Sen. Tony Vargas spoke in support of the amendment, saying that timeliness is key in addressing immediate changes of placement.
“We want to make sure that information is being provided to all interested parties, which also includes parents and guardians, and that notice is provided in a way that gets to those individuals as quickly as possible,” he said.
Following the 37-0 adoption of the Lowe amendment, senators advanced LB273 to select file on a voice vote.